There have been plenty of questions regarding the impact of coaches in certain sports at the Olympics, but on Tuesday there was one who single-handedly saved his athlete from losing out on a medal.
Aly Raisman, captain of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team and a big part of the team’s win in the all-around event, had just registered a 14.966 on the balance beam, which was only good enough for a fourth-place finish.
It was a disappointing moment for the Americans, especially after Gabby Douglas had slipped off the beam en route to a seventh-place finish.
But then Mihai Brestyan stepped in.
Raisman’s personal coach filed a protest for the judges to review her scores again. They determined her difficulty score should be bumped up 0.120 to a 6.300, giving her a 15.066 overall.
This tied her with Romania’s Catalina Ponor, but since Raisman had a higher execution score (8.766 to 8.466), the bronze medal was all hers. China’s Deng Linlin (15.600) and Lu Sui (15.50) took the gold and silver, respectively.
While the outrage in Romania is certainly justified, it was time to celebrate for the Americans.
All thanks to Brestyan.
Sure, sticking up for your athlete is something every coach should do, but it doesn’t always happen. He knew the stakes and refused to let Raisman lose without putting up a fight. He ensured that the judges reevaluated their decision, and now Raisman gets to walk away with three medals.
Later in the day she ended up winning gold in the floor exercise after already being a part of the gold-medal-winning all-around team.
While you may think she was incredibly lucky, it was only last week when the Needham, Mass., gymnast was denied a bronze medal because of another tiebreaker. She was in a tie with Russia’s Aliya Mustafina at the conclusion of the individual all-around, but lost when the lowest of four scores were dropped, and Mustafina had a higher score.
Brestyan couldn’t do anything about that tiebreaker.
Tuesday was a day the gymnastic gods balanced everything out, and it never would have happened if it weren’t for coach Brestyan.