Stretching Out: Apparatus Finals Conclude
(6 votes, average 4.83 out of 5)

The 2012 Olympic artistic gymnastics competition concluded today with the final apparatus finals for both men and women. High bar stole the show, with scores soaring higher and higher and … well, here's what happened in all four finals.

Balance Beam

It did not take long for the gold and silver medals to be determined, but it took quite a while for the judges to decide on the bronze medalist. First up was world beam champion Sui Lu, who hit cold for a 15.500. The score was a tenth higher than her top-ranked qualifying score.

Her routine is smart, because she opens with a piked front, then walks/dances backward to the end, and then performs a front-half. The first skill serves as a warm-up for the second. (I'll get to my point later.) She scored a 9.0 in execution, which is sort of like the new 10.0 (except for on vault).

2004 Olympic beam champion Catalina Ponor was next and had some balance issues. Her double turn turned into a 2.5, but not without an obvious balance check. Everything was going smoothly until her Kochetkova (full-twisting back handspring) did not cooperate and she had to take extra steps to stay on. She gambled with a full-in dismount that came up a bit short, but she still completed it. She'll be 25 on Aug. 20. How many other 20-somethings are doing that trick?

Her 15.066 did not stay in second for long, because Deng Linlin edged her Chinese teammate by 0.10 in D-score (6.6) and scored a 9.0 herself in execution. Her best pass was two flip-flops to a layout followed by a back handspring-swingdown. It's a good thing she's tiny, because there was very little beam left to swing down on.

Romania's Larisa Iordache figured to jump past Ponor and maybe surpass the Chinese pair, but she fell on her first series, a flip-flop tucked full. Getting back to the point I brought up earlier, she barely had enough time to feel the beam under her feet in her first Olympic event final, and she's throwing her hardest trick.

Russia's Ksenia Afanasyeva lacked the difficulty to challenge for a medal, and Gabrielle Douglas fell on, and then off, the beam after a switch leap-half. But then again, the clock had already struck midnight for her after the all-around final. Two golds at your first Olympics isn't bad, though.

"I gave it my all today, but it wasn't my day to shine," she said.

Viktoria Komova could have grabbed a medal here, but she, too, came off, after a front somi. She's beautiful when she's on, but her high center of gravity is unforgiving on this event.

Aly Raisman seized the moment and hit the event that had hurt her all-around chances. It wasn't perfect, but just enough to tie Ponor. But it took a judges inquiry to have her D-score raised 0.10, and she won the bronze over Ponor based on her higher E-score (8.766). The same thing had happened to Raisman in the all-around.

Floor Exercise

This event was Raisman's to win or lose, and she finally landed her entire first pass (1.5 twist step-out, roundoff, flip-flop, Arabian double front, front layout), which is the hardest tumbling run being done today. All of her other landings were secure, and nobody came close to her 15.600, which had the highest E- (9.1) and D-scores (6.5).

Jordyn Wieber couldn't stay in bounds on her mount, but there was definitely a medal available for her today, even if the all-around would have been her best shot. Afanasyeva also couldn't stay in bounds.

Ponor, 2004 Olympic floor champion, hit a solid set with good landings to post a 15.200. She stuck her double layout mount and double pike dismount. What a comeback she's made.

Lauren Mitchell had the D-score (6.4) but her tumbling lacked amplitude and she sort of fell out of a jump turn.

With a relatively new trick up her sleeve (and her leotard had only one sleeve), Vanessa Ferrari opened with a full-in to standing back tuck. Everything else was clean and she posted a third-place 14.900 that was bumped to fourth in a tiebreaker when Aliya Mustafina matched it with a higher E-score (9.0). This seemed to be happening a lot this week for the bronze.

This set up 2008 Olympic floor champion Sandra Izbasa, who had drawn the final slot for the second time (vault, too). She was headed for a medal until her final pass turned into an exact replay of Rebecca Bross at the 2009 worlds in this very arena. It even happened in the same part of the floor mat. Her 2.5 twist to front-full turned into a barani to hands and knees. Ouch.

Raisman was on cloud nine afterward. "It feels amazing," Raisman said. "I have been working so hard, so to have it come true is so exciting. I have always dreamed of being the Olympic champion on floor,…"

Parallel Bars

Feng Zhe won the 2010 worlds on p-bars with a 15.966, and that score was good enough to win today, as well. Only this time he had 7.0 in D-score instead of 6.7.

All-around runner-up Marcel Nguyen won his second silver here, dismounting with the only full-twisting double in the field (15.80, 6.8).

After Zhang Chenglong opened the event with a fall on a peach-half, Hamilton Sabot hit well for a 15.566, despite bending his arms at the start of all of his peaches. His score held up for bronze.

Kazuhito Tanaka came closest at 15.50, and he even stuck his double pike. He might have deserved a medal, but with scores that close, it's hard to say. His younger brother, Yusuke, finished eighth.

This final had nine competitors because of a tie. And even though he did not medal, Mexico's Daniel Corral performed well for fifth.

High Bar

It was a pity that high bar was not contested after women's floor exercise, because it would have been a thrilling end to the Olympic gymnastics competition.

Danell Leyva got things going with an excellent set (15.833), but his 7.2 D-score would prove well shy of the medalists.

Zhang followed with a 16.266 (7.7), and after Emin Garibov struggled with his Takemoto, 2008 Olympic champion Zou Kai edged Zhang by 0.10 (7.9 D-score).

Just when it was looking like a 1-2 Chinese finish, Fabian Hambuchen relied on a strong E-score to counter his 7.5 D-score and he surged to first with a 16.400. Surely, this would stay golden, right?

Epke Zonderland, who had paid his dues many times over, finally got his return here. He linked a Cassina-Kovacs-Kolman and later slung a Gaylord II after a Takemoto-half. He also was the only gymnast to really stick his dismount, so his 7.9 D-score helped him to a 16.533 and the Olympic gold. Hambuchen, of course, congratulated him immediately.

2008 silver medalist Jonathan Horton followed, but the medals were decided. He hit well, but his 6.8 D-score couldn't compete. Korea's Kim Jihoon ended the event uneventfully with a 15.133, and the celebration continued for the Flying Dutchman on the sidelines.

Comments (12)add comment
..., Low-rated comment [Show]

brian bias said:

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Ponor had 2 breaks, the later of them being at least a .5 deduction on the full twisting bhs. Her dismount could have easily lost her another .5 I think they got it right as the overall impression of Raisman's routine was a hit and Ponor's not so much. Aly's form isn't as terrible as everyone says. She's all muscle so even when her legs are straight and toes pointed, it doesn't looks as nice as Liukin. A 180 split is a 180 split whether your tall and skinny or short and musclely. Judges have started to confuse artistic with skinny and it's not fair to judge on body type.
 
August 08, 2012
Votes: +10

v dillon said:

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raisman earned her bronze
raisman earned her bronze. ponor had two BIG wobbles in her routine with a low dismount and step on the landing. fair is fair. be objective. i am not a raisman fan at all, but ponor had a near fall.
 
August 08, 2012
Votes: +9
..., Low-rated comment [Show]

Rachel T said:

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Raisman deserved her medals!
Raisman totally deserved that bronze medal and the adjustment of the score was very justified. I was also happy for her especially having been on the losing end of the tie for the bronze medal in the all around. With that said, I have to again say that I am very disappointed with the idea of a tiebreaker. I believe if the scores are tied, then they both should stand on the podium and get a bronze medal. These rules have to go!
Kudos for Raisman for also winning the Gold on floor exercise! I wish she would have kept her complete first pass in the all around and team competition. In both those events she had so much power that she took an extra hop after her double front which she easily could have done the front layout. It definitely cost her a medal for the all around and I think she would have easily medaled had she not taken the move out. Now she, Gabby, and Shannon Miller are the only American women that have ever won 2 Olympic Gold medals.
Lastly, I do have to say that the competition itself was the most boring Olympics I had ever watched from a competitive standpoint. There really weren't a lot of top competitors as we have seen in the past from various countries and we ended up watching the same 4 or 5 gymnasts for practically everything. I still have to say the late 80's and early 90's were the very best from a competitive standpoint. The all arounds back then were so exciting and it literally could have been anyone's game to win. When I watch a lot of those routines from the past versus now, I would have to say overall I prefer them. Somewhere along the way, we have lost a lot of the dance and true artistry. I'm not knocking any of the current gymnasts as I think many are phenomenal, but I think judging truly needs to give strong awards to originality. Lately it seems many of the gymnasts are all performing the same moves. I recently saw a national vote on a popular website asking who they thought were the better gymnasts: the Magnificent 7 or the Fab 5. I hate to say this because I love all the current gymnasts today, but I would pick the Mag 7. Not for what most people would think, like I believe theynare more talented (because I think it would be unfair to compare the two), but I would say the 1996 games were far more exciting filled with tremendously talented gymnasts from numerous countries that you really weren't sure who was going to win in any of the events. So many of the gymnast back then truly had the goods to win Gold that it kept it very exciting. I love watching all their old routines on The internet and encourage the younger generation to go and watch some of them as I believe they would think they were very exciting to watch. But most of all, I would have to say that I preferred it more because they included compulsories. What a complete travesty that they have dropped compulsories! As an example, I would encourage anyone to watch Shannon Miller's 1996 compulsory beam routine and compare it to many of the other gymnasts. You truly can see startling differences in skill and form. With compulsories eliminated, gymnasts clearly are only going to do skills that they are good at and avoid the skills that they were not good at. Compulsories revealed that and I think it is a crime they were eliminated. I think they should be reinstated and that should be night one of the competition and then night 2 should be optionals for team and then both scores should be counted and averaged.
 
August 08, 2012
Votes: +9
..., Low-rated comment [Show]

Wanda said:

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What a dreadful suggestion - keeping gymnasts out by body type! It's pointlessly discriminatory (since looking like a stick does not mean you could dance) and against everything that the modern Olympic movement is supposed to stand for. The IOC would be well justified in throwing gymnastics out of the OG if FIG reached the depths of accepting rules that one.

If this is an example, of the ridiculous lengths to which people will go to promote "artistic" gymnastics, then maybe we need to drop the "artistic" and lose the music and choreography, so that promoters of this sort of idea will drift off to ballet recitals or rhythmic gymnastics and leave the rest of us to enjoy the sport.
 
August 09, 2012
Votes: +10

beelzebub said:

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Raisman
Her form is horrible for an elite gymnast. They should have deducted more for her lack of toe point, extension, amplitude ... that switch leap half was nasty.
 
August 09, 2012
Votes: +1

Carlee said:

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I was at the Olympics during this. Aly's routine only had one wobble after her punch front or punch pike, causing a missed connection before the back layout. However, this is not one the inquiry was about. If you look at her scores from nationals and trials, you'll see that her normal D score is a 6.4. Even with the missed connection, her D score should have been a 6.3. When it flashed as a 6.2, they knew something else was wrong, so they filed the inquiry. After it took forever for them to finish the inquiry on Uchimura's pommel routine (I was there too), this one was changed quickly. Obviously the D panel judges missed something, or miss calculated, and the technical committee saw it and fixed it. Because of that, the second score was correct, and Aly deservedly won the bronze, because of what the tie break rules were, which is when the E score differences, and Ponor's unfortunate mistakes made the difference. That being said, I don't like the tie break rules either. It was something created by the IOC, not the FIG, because they don't want ties. I guess those medals are expensive to make.
 
August 09, 2012
Votes: +3

brian bias said:

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@dragonair - yes, it's called artistic gymnastics. art is very subjective. we have ballet, tap, modern, jazz, belly, african. it's not called balletic gymnastics which seems to be the only form you or the judges credit. you can't compare warhol to the renaissance but you have to agree they are both a style of art. I'm tired of ballet being the only dance form the judges acknowledge!
 
August 10, 2012
Votes: +6

peter1234 said:

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gymnastics is a subjective sport. we won't always agree with the judges, but that's how the sport works. at the end of the day, aly earned her medals. like they've repeated over and over on the broadcasts, she's probably the hardest working gymnast out there. so regardless of body type, dancing ability, etc, she earned it.
gymnastics today isn't what it used to be, and finding the grace of the soviet era is probably impossible. you have a few instances where you see komova and liukin, but looking at the code of points, maintaining that level of grace and fluidity just doesn't seem possible while performing routines of this caliber.
regardless, congratulatons to aly, and congratulations to ponor for coming back 8 years after her successes and showing the world that she can still perform.
 
August 10, 2012
Votes: +3

Truth said:

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The .1 in difficulty that was raised was from her connected turn series- leg up full + inside full turn. The missed connection from the bobble on front pike was long gone.
 
August 10, 2012
Votes: +1

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