U.S. gymnasts roll, but favorite Wieber misses out on all-around
London • As Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman and the rest of the U.S. women's gymnastics team waited to march onto the happy pink floor of North Greenwich Arena at the London Olympics, coach John Geddert pulled out his iPhone and, in a tweet, described the anticipation as "10 minutes of hell."
But it only got worse once the meet began.
"It's almost like when someone passes away," national team coordinator Marta Karolyi said. "What's to say?"
Wieber, the defending world champion and favorite in the individual all-around at these games, was upset by her teammate, Raisman, and knocked out of the all-around competition after not one major miscue but several teetering imperfections.
There was a step out of bounds on vault and a break in form on the uneven bars, and she never quite seemed to achieve balance on the beam. On the final rotation, the floor exercise, she stepped beyond the corner boundary.
Wieber, 17, had not lost a meet in two years before the U.S. Olympic Trials, when she was upset by charming rising star Gabby Douglas, 15.
Meanwhile, Raisman, the 18-year-old team captain, had the "meet of her life," Geddert said. Geddert is also Wieber's personal coach in DeWitt, Mich.
Russian Victoria Komova led the way in the individual all-around with 60.632, but was followed by the tight grouping of three Americans. Raisman finished a team-high 60.391, while Douglas qualified with a 60.265, two-tenths of a point ahead of Wieber, who, despite a fourth-place finish, does not qualify due to a rule limiting each country to two gymnasts.
There's much more to be seen from each of the Americans: McKayla Maroney qualified for vault finals; Douglas qualified in uneven bars and beam; Raisman qualified in beam and floor; and, ironically, Wieber qualified on floor, despite that being the apparatus that Saturday cost her a shot at the all-around.
Going into the floor exercise, Raisman trailed Wieber by only three-tenths of a point, although she later said she was not paying attention to the scores.
After Wieber stumbled to a 14.666 on floor, Raisman performed with precision, and then with just as much focus, trotted over to coach Mihai Brestyan.
Together they waited. There it was: 15.325.
Brestyan hugged Raisman and whispered into her ear. Raisman's face turned from confused shock to mortified wonderment to a kind of joy that was far from pure.
"I feel really bad, and it's hard," said Raisman, who is Wieber's roommate. "I don't even ... I'm just still speechless that I made the all-around."
The result could hinder the Americans' chances at gold in the all-around. Wieber was considered the strongest contender for the U.S., and Raisman would likely need an even better performance than she had Saturday when the all-around is held on Thursday.
As a team, the U.S. performed as expected and qualified first for Tuesday's team finals. The favorites to win gold for the first time since the Magnificent Seven in 1996 in Atlanta, on Sunday the Americans scored 181.863 points. It gave them healthy breathing room ahead of second-place Russia (180.429) and more than five points more than defending gold medalist China (176.637).
But the focus quickly shifted from a workman-like team performance to one of the most unthinkable upsets in team history. Karolyi said she could not think of a time where a world champion did not qualify in the Olympic all-around.
"You're always striving for perfection," Karolyi said. "We're still human beings, we're not machines. I jokingly tell the girls, 'Program it in, and then you'll be able to do that.' But it's not that simple."
In a statement provided by Olympic organizers, Wieber was quoted as saying, "It is a bit of a disappointment."
Sunday evening, Wieber tweeted: "Thank you all for your love and support. I am so proud of our team today, and I can't wait for team finals!!"
Even Geddert said he had not yet discussed the finish with Wieber, who he said had not only opted not to speak with media, she had not spoken at all.
"She'll go into her little shell," he said, "and it will be a while before she comes out."
It raises the question of how ready Wieber will be Tuesday for the team finals and later in the individual floor exercise, for which she, ironically, qualified with her score Sunday.
Geddert threw fire at the system that will prevent his star pupil from chasing all-around gold. He blasted the "stupid rule" that doesn't allow a third competitor from each country into the finals.
"Kids train their entire life but because they're the third best in their country," Geddert said, "they don't get to go to the dream competition."
• Defending world champion Jordyn Wieber fails to qualify for the individual all-around after a stunning performance from roommate Aly Raisman.
• The U.S. qualified first for Tuesday's team with a 181.863.
• Wieber will compete in team finals as well as the individual floor exercise, the apparatus that cost her most on Sunday.
• The top-qualifying U.S. men will compete in the team finals Monday.