Aly Raisman: Tough Break in London Won't Slow American Phenom

Steven Goldstein@@GoldsteinNUContributor IAugust 2, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02:  Alexandra Raisman of the United States reacts after she competes on the vault in the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Individual All-Around final on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

At just 18 years old, American gymnast Aly Raisman has shaken up the most prominent sporting event in the world.

On Tuesday, Raisman, the Olympic U.S. women's gymnastics captain, lead the red, white and blue to their first gold medal in team competition since 1996. A dominant floor routine catapulted her past teammate, and defending world champion, Jordyn Wieber for individual qualification, sending shockwaves throughout London.

But that was just the beginning.

Thursday, Raisman saw a stinging finish to her improbable run, finishing fourth in the all-around individual competition. While fellow American Gabby Douglas snagged gold, becoming the third consecutive U.S. gymnast to earn top Olympic honors, Raisman was knocked from the podium altogether, despite finishing with the same total score as bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina.

Both Raisman and Russia's Mustafina notched a 59.566 total score, but newly-enacted Olympic tie-break protocol gave the edge to the latter. Lowest-round scores were dropped on Thursday, with the remaining marks averaged in.

It's a tough break for the budding American, but nothing that will slow her down.

Raisman stands to become the sport's most recognizable face, already garnering a flurry of media attention. She's picked up a veritable following, draws interest from popular culture outlets and has established a reputation for her floor and balance beam prowess on a global stage.

And at age 18, she's just getting started.

Raisman is slated to compete in August 7th's individual floor exercise and balance beam competitions. While she fell short in the all-around action, the American phenom still has a viable chance to medal again, this time in her strongest sectors of competition.

Raisman scored an impressive 15.133 in Thursday's floor round, good for second-best in the field. While her balance beam performance wasn't quite up to par, eliminating weak spots like the uneven bars will be huge for Raisman come Tuesday.

While her poise and confidence is continuing to develop, Raisman already boasts a decorated career. She claimed three medals at 2011's World Championships, recorded three individual silvers at the 2010 Melbourne Pacific Rim Championships and another all-around silver at this year's American Cup in New York.

Moreover, her stoic reaction to Thursday's tiebreaker, and the level of appreciation and gratitude shown towards her teammates, exemplifies the kind of character that should carry Raisman to a productive career.

Thursday's fourth-place finish is nothing but a minor hindrance to a promising future. Raisman has come into the national limelight, and flashed some of the Olympics' grittiest performances. Perhaps this wasn't the come-up anyone expected from her, but regardless, she's here. And she's here to stay.