Olympic Gymnastics 2012: The 10 Most Memorable Moments of the London Games

Emily Bayci@emilybayciContributor IIIAugust 7, 2012

Olympic Gymnastics 2012: The 10 Most Memorable Moments of the London Games

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    The 2012 Olympic artistic gymnastics events came to a close after a grueling and exciting week and a half of competition.

    Every day had its own surprises as the events were filled with excitement, upset, controversy and skilled gymnastics.

    Take a look at the 10 most memorable moments from the gymnastics events, counting down from 10 to one.

10. Chinese Women on Balance Beam in Apparatus Finals

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    The Chinese were shut out of the team finals but stuck out as the most talented beam workers during the individual event finals.

    Deng Linlin and Sui Lu finished first and second, exhibiting strong performances in the middle of several shaky performances from the eight-woman field.

    Deng notched a 15.6 and Sui was right behind her with a 15.5.

    "'My goal after 2008 was to have a breakthrough in an individual event,'" Deng said in an interview with Gymnastike.com. "'Now I have.'"

9. Aly Raisman Finishing on Top

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    Aly Raisman had a tumultuous Olympic journey that included upsets, tiebreakers and controversy. 

    In her final day of competition, she shined like the true champion she is.

    Raisman appealed her score on the balance beam, and after review the judges added an extra tenth of a point to her score, which put her in a tie for third with Catalina Ponor of Romania. She then won the bronze medal due to a tiebreaker.

    Then, Raisman performed the most successful floor routine of her life and handily won the gold medal to finish out her Olympics with three medals.

8. Leyva's Bars Turnaround for All-Around Bronze

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    Danell Leyva had a slow start during the individual all-around finals.

    He kept fighting when it came down to the final two events—parallel bars and high bar.

    Leyva hit his parallel bars routine and then completely stuck his high bar routine in one of the best performances of his life.

    Leyva's face at the conclusion of his high bar routine was priceless as he was completely pleased with himself.

    "'I'm very happy about getting the bronze especially after coming back from a mess on pommel horse but not I'm satisfied,'" Leyva said in an interview with Kelly Whiteside of USA Today. "'In 2016 and 2020, I'm looking for gold again.'"

7. Maroney Falls on Vault in Apparatus Finals, Wins Silver

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    All McKayla Maroney had to do was nail her vaults to win a gold medal. She was the hands-down favorite to win.

    Maroney performed a fantastic Amanar vault, not her best but pretty close, and scored a 15.866.

    Then, when she ran up for her second vault, the unthinkable happened. She landed on her bottom because her hands did not land on the vaulting table correctly and her feet slipped out from under her.

    Maroney, her coaches, competitors and the audience looked on in shock as Sandra Izbasa beat her out for the gold.

    Maroney won the silver medal despite the fall because her first vault was just that difficult.

    "'I just wanted to prove to everybody that I can hit two vaults and do my best for U.S.A., that’s what I’m disappointed about,'" she said in an interview with the New York Times. "'Just about how I trained so hard, and, just on this day, it didn’t go.'"

6. Kohei Uchimura Dominating Men’s All-Around

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    There was a little bit of question about how Japan's Kohei Uchimura would perform in the individual all-around final after a less-than-spectacular prelims and team final performance.

    Uchimura proved himself to be the greatest gymnast in the world during the all-around, though, and handily grabbed the gold medal.

    "'I have been a world champion three times, three years in a row,'" Uchimura said to the Associated Press. "'But this is different. It's once in four years, and the wait was there. I felt like the demon was chasing me this time.'"

    Uchimura was untouchable during the finals, performing near-perfect routines with intense skills and difficulty. It's just like what he's been doing for the past three years. He won the silver medal in Beijing and hasn't lost a major competition since.

5. Men's High Bar Finals

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    It was hit routine after hit routine after hit routine, with each gymnast performing better than the last, and it seemed like falling was not an option.

    The men's high bar finals were one of the most phenomenal event finals ever. The field included world champions and all three medal winners from Beijing.

    Epke Zonderland was the high point of the strong performances, with an untouchable high-bar routine (16.533). He won the first medal for a Dutchman and the second Olympic medal overall for the Netherlands in artistic gymnastics.

    As per the Associated Press:

    He opened his routine with three straight release moves, not even pausing to catch his breath before tossing himself high into the air again. It's high risk, high reward, and the crowd loved it, oohing and aahing as he flew so high he could have waved into the overhead camera.

    He was a blur as he pirouetted on the bar, yet never looked as if he was on the verge of going out of control.

    When he hit the mat, he let out a roar. American Jonathan Horton, up next, could only laugh and shake his head, knowing there was no way he — or anyone — could top that show.

     

4. Aly Raisman Taking Top Qualifying Spot, Ousting Jordyn Wieber

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    Two American gymnasts were crying at the conclusion of the gymnastics preliminaries: Aly Raisman because she made the all-around finals, and Jordyn Wieber because she didn't.

    Jordyn Wieber is the defending world champion and was a favorite to win the all-around. Raisman is a talented competitor, always overshadowed by Wieber and Gabby Douglas.

    Raisman couldn't even believe it when she found out she made the finals, as she was focused on the floor final. She placed second overall in qualifiers after having the day of her life.

    Wieber didn't get to go to the individual event finals because Douglas finished third and nabbed the second American all-around spot. The rule is only two gymnasts can compete per a country.

    "I feel really bad knowing how much she wanted it," Raisman said in an interview with Bloomberg. "I had no idea that I was in the position to outscore her. I was completely focusing on my exercises and not on the scores."

    The situation took off as one of the biggest Olympics controversies.

3. Great Britain Bronze in Men’s All-Around

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    The moment really started in the preliminaries, when Great Britain's Louis Smith nailed his pommel horse routine and started crying when he saw the score.

    All Smith wanted was a team medal, which would have been the first for Great Britain gymnastics in a century.

    At first, it seemed like the Brits had won the silver. But then there was an inquiry placed on Kohei Uchimura's final pommel-horse score and the Brits were knocked down to bronze.

    They still won that team medal in front of the home crowd, a medal that defines the bright future of Great Britain gymnastics.

2. American Women's Vault on Way to Team Gold

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    There were plenty of questions surrounding how the American women would perform in the team finals after the drama of prelims.

    Jordyn Wieber answered all those questions by nailing the very first vault of the team competition. Then, Gabby Douglas came after and did even better.

    All the Americans can do Amanar vaults, the most difficult and dangerous vault in the world. McKayla Maroney's is harder than most, as she has more height, flips and difficulty than her teammates. Maroney nailed her vault in what many say could have been a perfect 10.

    The Americans finished the vault with a 1.7-point lead and never lost it. Their performance set the tone to win Team USA's first team gold since 1996.

1. Gabby Douglas Winning the All-Around

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    Gabby Douglas made American history when she became the first American woman to win the individual and team all-around gold medal and the first African-American to win the all-around.

    In 1996, none of the all-arounders medaled, let alone won. And of the three American all-around champions, none of them have a gold team medal to their name.

    Douglas may have struggled during the individual-event finals, but her legacy remains as the greatest success in American gymnastics history.

     

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