Found August 07, 2012 on Fox Sports:
This is how Jordyn Wieber's Olympics came to an end: talking about her disappointing individual performance these past two weeks while in the background the national anthem played, the music a poignant reminder that once again a different American had taken gold. This time it was Aly Raisman, the same gymnast who knocked Wieber out of the all-around finals, standing atop the podium with a gold medal for the floor routine dangling around her neck. She already had claimed a bronze earlier that day on the balance beam, besting seven other competitors, including teammate and all-around gold-medalist Gabby Douglas, who finished eighth out of eight. These were supposed to be Wieber's games, her moments, but instead they belonged first to Douglas and now Raisman. Marketed by USA Gymnastics as its shining light, Wieber's failure to even qualify for the individual finals had opened the door to Douglas' gold in that event. Now Raisman had added a gold and bronze to the growing list of accomplishments Wieber had come up short on. As the anthem thrummed on, Wieber braved the moment with such dignity and grace she seemed every bit the Olympic ideal as her teammates. "It's definitely hard," she said. "It's a lot better when you're in a team competition and you have your team cheering you on. And we kind of feed off of each other. But when you're out there by yourself, it's a little bit different and you're basically your only teammate." Wieber had rebounded with great performances in the team final to help USA claim team gold, and again she was the consummate teammate: congratulating Raisman despite her own seventh-place finish on the floor, saying how proud she was of that team gold and answering a question about rumors she has been injured with the maturity of an adult. "My shin is fine," she said. "It didn't really bother me too much. Once you get out on the floor it's (OK). It wasn't too bad today, I was looking really good in warm-ups and I was feeling really strong, and then I went and did my routine and stepped out of bounds and it was out of reach." This is the Olympics, where you don't make excuses -- or news -- that would tread on a teammate's success. Wieber knew that instinctively and handled it like a real adult -- like a champion. Maybe for her next incredible accomplishment she can teach a thing or two to her coach, John Geddert, about class, maturity and graciousness. Geddert -- presumably the adult here -- followed up Wieber's comments by unloading a bundle of excuses, all while saying he didn't want to make excuses. Then he made nearly nine minutes worth of excuses, dropping enough to create the narrative he's looking to push: That it was all the injuries. Geddert said Wieber would be in a boot Wednesday and for six weeks going forward. Geddert said they hadn't been able to train as much as they otherwise would. Geddert said as a result she just wasn't the same gymnast in London. Geddert said there hadn't been an MRI but that it sure looked like a stress fracture to him. Geddert wouldn't stop talking. "Obviously, it takes its toll going down the stretch," Geddert said. "She wasn't as polished as she normally is. But we couldn't train. She's had a soreness and now there's a lump there, so there's all the signs of a stress fracture. She's going in a boot tomorrow." And: "You've seen her in the past. She didn't look anything like she has looked in the past. It's not because she stopped training. She just had a little bit of a limitation. I'm not making excuses, folks. I don't want to get into that. It is what it is. There's some good champions out there, and I don't want to draw away from their accomplishments. But . . ." But. Oh, Geddert. The man was doing nothing but making excuses. But he got one thing right, even if he was wildly disingenuous about it. There are great -- not good, Geddert, great champions out there. And he shouldn't be taking away form their accomplishments. Including Raisman and Douglas, both of whom competed Tuesday, one closing out the gymnastics portion of the London Games as a champion, the other again with difficulty. Raisman's beam performance was excellent, but when she dismounted as the last to go and the score went up, she was in fourth. Still, her coach put in an appeal, asking the judges to revaluate the difficulty score they had given her. After they watched her performance frame by frame, they readjusted her score to 15.066. She was tied, now, and this time the tiebreaker went her way. She had won the bronze. China took gold and silver, with Deng Linlin scoring a 15.6 and Sui Lu notching a 15.5. "I wanted to get an individual medal here," Raisman said. "I felt like I had nothing to lose because I'd already achieved one of my goals, so it was going to be my last memory so I just wanted to make it count." She did that on the floor exercise, executing a beautiful sequence that netted her a 15.6, more than enough for gold. Catalina Ponor of Romania -- the gymnast Raisman beat out for the bronze on beam -- took silver with a 15.2. Aliya Mustafina took bronze with a 14.9. Wieber's 14.5 put her in seventh. This was Raisman's day, regardless of what John Geddert tried to pull. She arrived at her press conference wearing both medals, and they clinked together loudly over the speakers as she joked about how heavy there were. She beamed with joy and pride. She had earned it. Raisman leaves London as America's most decorated gymnast, with two golds and a bronze. This was her day, despite the immaturity of a man at least twice her age. "It feels amazing," she 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. I was really happy to do the flour routine of my life here today." You can follow Bill Reiter on Twitter or email him at foxsportsreiter@gmail.com.
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