Nastia and Shawn 1-2 Punch KOs China

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IAugust 14, 2008

China's much celebrated gymnastic arena had seen three competition's and three Chinese golds.

That was until Friday morning, when Americans Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson took the stage.

In the Women's Individual All-around, countries send their best two gymnast to compete for individual medals.  Four years ago, in Athens, the United States won behind Carly Patterson from Plano, Texas.

This year the Nastia and Shawn would compete for the medals in the lion's den, Beijing, China.

China sent Yang Yilin and Jiang Yuyuan to compete for gold, other gymnast of interest were Russia's Anna Pavlova and Ksenia Semenova and Romania's Steliana Nistor.

Group One, the main group of contenders, consisted of both gymnast from the United States, China, and Russia.

The first rotation was the vault, because this event was first it would seem the other competors had early leads on these six, but group one all finished in the top seven.

After the vault, Shawn Johnson lead the group with a 15.875.  She was followed by Pavlova - 15.275(-0.600), Yilin - 15.175(-0.700), Liukin - 15.025(-0.850), Yuyuan - 14.825(-1.050), and Semenova - 14.750(-1.125).  Yuyuan incurred a fall on her dismount.

The second rotation led the gymnast to the uneven bars, a strength for the Chinese.

Uneven bar scores:  Yilin - 16.725, Liukin - 16.650, Semenova - 16.475, Yuyuan - 15.875, Johnson - 15.275, and Pavlova - 14.525.

Half was through the competition and after the uneven bars, Yilin took over the lead with a total score of 31.900.  Trailing her was Liukin - 31.675(-0.225), Semenova - 31.225(-0.675), Johnson - 31.150(-0.750), Yuyuan - 30.700(-1.200), and Pavlova - 29.800(-2.100).

The next rotation took the gymnast to the beam, easily the most scariest of all the events in women's gymnastics.  The beam is very well known for making or breaking gymnast and/or team competition (Alicia Sacramone during the Team Competition).

The beam has been the weakest event for the Chinese, the Russians historically have been very good on the beam, and the Americans have been dominate on the beam.

During the competition, everything seemed to slow down dramatically, while scores and deductions were not consist from gymnast to gymnast.

Shawn Johnson flew threw her routine with easy, while the Chinese (especially Yuyuan) looked unease and had many balance checks.  However Johnson's performance score was a 9.050, Yuyuan 9.025 and Yilin 9.050.  Not trying to stir the pot of controversy, just making an observation, shared by NBC analyst.

Balance Beam scores: Liukin - 16.125, Johnson - 16.050, Pavlova - 15.975, Semenova - 15.925, Yilin - 15.750, Yuyuan - 15.425.

Scores after three rotations had put American Nastia Liukin in the lead with a 47.800.  Behind her Yilin - 47.650(-0.150), Johnson - 47.200(-0.600), Semenova - 47.150(-0.650), Yuyuan - 46.125(-1.675), and Pavlova - 45.775(-2.025).

With only the floor exercise remaining, the Americans had the chance to complete the dream that both Liukin and Johnson said they had been having for months, finishing 1-2.

The order on the floor had Yuyuan going first, followed by Pavlova and Semenova, and then the Big Three, Yilin, Liukin, and Johnson.

Yuyuan scored a 14.775 giving her 60.900 total points, a sixth place finish.

Pavlova scored a 15.050 giving her 60.825 total points, a seventh place finish.

Nistor of Romania, competing in group two scored 61.050 for fifth place.

Semenova scored 14.775 giving her 61.925 total points, a fourth place finish.

Next was Yilin, she had scored 15.000 in the team competition and needed to do so again to put the pressure on the two Americans.

Yilin, with only one minor mistake, repeated her team competition performance of 15.000 giving her 62.650 total points.

Would it, could it hold up against Liukin and Johnson.

Liukin next needed better than a 14.850 to beat Yilin, and she performed the routine of her life, 15.525 for 63.325 total points.  It guaranteed her at least a silver medal, but would it be gold.

Johnson need to score better than a 16.125 to win gold and better than a 15.325 to win silver.

And just like her teammate, she did and their dream came true, a 15.525 for Johnson and 62.725 total points.

Nastia Liukin, born in Moscow and raised in Texas to Olympic and World Champion Gymnastic parents had won gold of her own.

Shawn Johnson, born in West Des Moines, Iowa fell behind her by only 0.600 points to win herself a silver medal.

China's fans and Yilin were appreciative, but had to be disappointed.

America 1-2...KO!!!


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