Just a few short days ago, American gymnast Jordyn Wieber experienced perhaps one of the most disappointing moments in her career when she failed to qualify for the all-around competition. That feeling morphed into pure jubilation on Tuesday when she nailed her floor exercise and was a huge part of the United States winning team gold, however.
Wieber is the defending all-around world champion, so she could have very easily folded after not qualifying, but she seemed to take it as a learning experience and performed as well as ever in the team event. Her floor exercise didn't close out the second-place Russians, but it gave Aly Raisman a huge cushion to work with.
During her routine, Wieber displayed the trademark power, grace and pure athleticism that made her the all-around favorite. It stands to reason that Wieber entered the team competition with the all-around failure still on her mind, but it didn't show as she was very cool under pressure.
In reality, Wieber was a victim of circumstance more than anything. She didn't perform poorly during the all-around qualifying, but she wasn't quite at the nearly-flawless level she normally is. A step here and a step there allowed teammates Gabby Douglas and Raisman to finish ahead of her, and that knocked Wieber out of the running.
Wieber actually did plenty to qualify, but the arbitrary rule that only allows two gymnasts per country to compete in the all-around program is what did her in. The situation was a bizarre one because her own teammate, Raisman, is the one who actually dashed her Olympic dreams. Just a couple days later they were cheering each other on as if nothing happened.
That is a true testament to Wieber's will and her commitment to the team. In a lot of ways, what Wieber did during floor exercise and throughout the team competition was much bigger and more important than anything she could have possibly accomplished in the all-around competition.
The United States has won the past two all-around titles with Nastia Liukin and Carly Patterson, but it hadn't won team gold since 1996. Despite having Liukin and Shawn Johnson on the Beijing team, the Americans fell short to the host Chinese squad.
This year's team was being hailed as the Fab Five, however, and had absolutely immense expectations. By virtue of Wieber's world title in the all-around, she has been viewed as the team leader by most, so much of the pressure to win that elusive team gold was firmly on her shoulders.
She came through with a dominant floor routine and essentially all memory of what had happened to her two days before was erased. The United States as a whole felt for Wieber as she cried following the all-around qualifying, but it also shared in her excitement when Team USA won as a team.
You could argue that Wieber would have been an even bigger star if she could have won team and all-around gold, but the grace and determination she showed in the face of adversity will likely score her more points with the American people.
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