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Aly Raisman wins gold in floor exercise, bronze in beam

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  August 7, 2012 10:35 AM

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Aly Raisman won the gold medal in the floor exercise over silver medalist Catalina Ponor of Romania (right) and Aliya Mustafina of Russia (left).

LONDON -- Versatile and unassuming, and said to feature more steadiness than flash in her repertoire, Aly Raisman ceded much of the attention to teammates Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber in advance of the Summer Games.

But after her two-medal performance Tuesday in the final day of gymnastics competition here, she departs knowing that in the end, the floor belonged to her.

300raismanfloor.jpgRaisman, a Needham native who'd be wise to set aside some time for a parade in her hometown, became the first United States woman ever to win the floor exercise at the Olympics, upping her degree of difficulty and nailing her routine to score a 15.6 and easily top silver medalist Catalina Ponor of Romania (15.2). Russia's Aliya Mustafina took the bronze (14.9). Wieber was seventh.

"It was the best routine I've ever done," Raisman said. "My coach [Mihai Brestyan] said it was the best routine he'd ever seen me do."

The floor exercise is Raisman's strongest event, and she won it in confident fashion, executing a version of her routine with a high (6.5) degree of difficulty and earning a 9.1 on execution, a very high score. She went for it, and it paid off.

What was somewhat unexpected was her bronze medal not much more than an hour earlier in the balance beam, which came after winning an appeal with the judges and then a tiebreaker with Ponor.

"Today has been a dream come true,'' said Raisman. "I'm so glad I got the medal I wanted."

Overall, Raisman won three medals in London -- she also anchored the United States's team gold, it's first since 1996. The US women won five medals overall, their lowest total since 2000. They collected eight in Beijing, six in Athens.

The circumstances with the balance beam were remarkably similar to the outcome of the women's all-around, when Raisman finished tied for the third-best score with Mustafina but lost out on a medal because of a tiebreaker.

The difference, of course, is that this time the tiebreaker worked in Raisman's favor.

After the inquiry, Raisman's degree of difficulty score was boosted 0.120, changing her score from 14.946 to 15.066, equaling Ponor. Raisman was awarded the medal because her execution score (8.766) was higher than Ponor's (8.466), which was the tiebreaker.

China went 1-2 atop the podium, with Deng Linlin getting gold (15.600) and Sui Lu the silver (15.50).

All-around champion Douglas fell during her routine, catching herself on the beam with her leg and pulling herself back up. She was seventh (13.633).

Despite a smooth routine with just one wobble, a hop on a dismount, Raisman's initial score of 14.946 put her a fraction of a point behind Ponor and apparently off the podium.

As the crowd booed, seemingly recognizing that she had been misjudged, her coach, Mihai Brestyan, filed an immediate appeal, requesting a review of her score.

When her new score was announced,the crowd roared. It wouldn't be the last time Tuesday they would do so for Raisman.

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