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USA's Gabby Douglas falters, but Aly Raisman takes bronze

10:09 AM, Aug 7, 2012   |    comments
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Alexandra Raisman (USA) competes in the women's balance beam final during the 2012 London Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena.

LONDON (USA TODAY) - With all-around champ Gabby Douglas flopping in her second individual event and Russian Victoria Komova doing even worse, the door was wide open for American Aly Raisman in the balance beam Tuesday at the London Olympics.

And the 18-year-old U.S. captain walked through - just barely. A protest by the USA team over her difficulty levels lifted Raisman from what was first announced as fourth place into the bronze medal.

Her score was tied with Catalina Ponor of Romania, but the tie-breaker went for the American this time. In the all-around final last week, Raisman fell from a tie for third into fourth because of a tie-breaker.

This time, her execution score of 8.766 beat Ponor's 8.466 to make the difference.

Deng Linlin of China took the gold and Sui Lu of China the silver.

Douglas, barely avoiding a fall off the beam, finished seventh out of eight competitors.

Gymnastics competition ends Tuesday with four events, two men and two women. In the first individual competition of the day, Feng Zhe of China won gold on the parallel bars. Marcel Nguyen of Germany took silver and Hamilton Sabot of France bronze.

Douglas has admitted to being tired after the all-around and team golds. Still, her improvement on beam has been the biggest factor behind her rise from what national team coordinator Marta Karolyi called an average elite gymnast to now, a gold medalist. In each competition this summer, her confidence grew.

In June, after finishing the first day of competition at nationals tied with Jordyn Wieber, Douglas slipped on the balance beam. A year ago, Douglas would have struggled to manage her nerves after such a stumble. This time, she fought back.

"I think I've improved so much with the mental situation," Douglas said then. "When I fell I was thinking, 'This is not going to be another Visas.' I got back up on the beam and I was so bad. I said, 'I'm going to stick everything.' I wanted to show I was a fighter and I was not giving up."

Last year at the Visa Championships, Douglas imploded finishing seventh in the all-round. "She's a different Gabby than she was at last year's championships - mentally," Karolyi said a month ago. "It looks like she's maturing and not giving up very easily and if she makes a mistake she's able to regroup and turn the page. You must turn the page and continue the chapter. She was able to do that after the fall on the beam."

In nationals, Douglas finished just behind Wieber. In the next major competition, Olympic trials, Douglas' was first. And in London, she's been golden. Her consistency on beam was key as the Americans won the team title, the first by since 1996, and her confident routine two days later gave her the all-around gold, a first for an African-American gymnast.

Before this summer, Douglas said her "beam was shaky and kind of kept me out of things." This made her work harder. "I was telling everyone, 'Don't count me out on beam just yet,'" Douglas said Sunday. "Because I am so capable and I'm so strong on beam. I was so happy to prove to everyone that I really am tough and I can really do this beam routine."

On Monday after finishing last among eight competitors in the uneven bars final, a tired Douglas vowed to finish on a good note on the event that's now a strength. She did, from eighth to seventh.

 

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