When the 2012 Olympic women's gymnastics individual all-around final ended on Thursday in London, American Aly Raisman and Russian Aliya Mustafina were tied for third with scores of 59.566.
However, the bronze medal went to Mustafina alone. Raisman officially finished fourth.
Here's how the tiebreaker played out.
In case of a tie in points at any place in Competition II, the ranking will be determined by the following criteria:
1. The gymnast with the highest sum of the final apparatus scores obtained will prevail (i.e. add the total of the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 of the highest final apparatus scores for men / the total of the 3, 2, 1 highest final apparatus scores for women.
2. If they remain tied, the highest total E score by adding all apparatus will prevail.
3. If they remain tied, the highest total D score by adding all apparatus will prevail.
4. If they remain tied, the gymnasts will share the same classification.
Competition II refers to the individual all-around. The judges go by the criteria first to fourth, and if any one of the rules breaks the tie, then that gymnast wins.
The first piece of criteria was the only one necessary for Mustafina to break ahead of Raisman. The gymnasts each dropped their lowest score in competition—the balance beam for both of them.
Mustafina took a fall on the balance beam and scored a 13.633, while Raisman scored a 14.200. When those scores were dropped, Mustafina had a 45.933 total and Raisman had a 45.366.
Therefore, Mustafina earned the bronze medal, and Raisman was left empty-handed.
If Raisman and Mustafina had still been tied after the lowest score was dropped, all four execution scores would have been added together and the higher score would have won. If they were still tied after that, all four difficulty scores would have been added together and the higher score would have won. If after all that there was still a tie, the gymnasts would have shared the bronze medal.
That was not the case, and according to the rules, Mustafina rightfully beat out Raisman for the bronze.