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Bela Karolyi says plan cost Jordyn Wieber all-around spot

3:21 PM, Jul 29, 2012   |    comments
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Jul 29, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Jordyn Wieber (USA) cries after her last routine during the women's qualifications during the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

 


 


LONDON - The best gymnast in the world the last two years, the USA's Jordyn Wieber, will miss out on the all-around final after finishing behind Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. After that stunning result during Sunday's qualifying, former national team coach Bela Karolyi ripped the process that set the rotational line-up in floor exercise, the USA's final event, and may have affected the results.

"This shouldn't have happened," said Karolyi, the husband of current national team coordinator Marta Karolyi. "This is a definite line-up mistake."

Raisman performed last in the USA's floor rotation, and her score of 15.325 in her signature event put her ahead of Wieber. In Bela Karolyi's view, Wieber should have competed last. The last gymnast competing is "supposed to be the best on the team." Judges' scores tend to be higher for the final competitors.

According to USA Gymnastics head Steve Penny, the line-up decision is a collaborative process. Five coaches from the five gymnasts weigh in on the decision but Marta Karolyi has the final say, Penny said. Bela Karolyi indicated that his wife preferred Wieber to be last on the floor and that the coaches voted otherwise. Marta Karolyi was not available to clarify what her line-up preference was.

In any case, regardless of the order, Wieber did make several uncharacteristic mistakes Sunday.

Bela Karolyi, who does not coach Wieber, feels that this could have a negative effect on the USA's chances for the team gold if Wieber doesn't psychologically respond from the disappointment.

"I'm afraid, to be honest," he said.

He said Raisman and Douglas deserved to compete for all-around, but Wieber was the "anchor" of the team.

With four of five groups done in team qualifying, the USA stood 2-3-4 in all-around qualifying and tops in the team qualifying. Viktoria Komova of Russia was the overall leader at 60.632.

Team finals are Tuesday, all-around on Thursday.

Raisman passed Wieber with a 15.325 on the floor, her signature event, to move into the all-around lead with 60.391 points. Wieber stands third at 60.032. Both were in tears when they left the arena.

Teammate Gabby Douglas finished second behind Raisman with 60.265 and will also compete in the all-around. Countries are limited to two competitors in the all-around finals.

No other competitor is higher than 57 so far.

Even so, as the team's recent history shows, the top spot on the podium isn't a given. The USA won worlds in 2003 and 2007 before earning team silver at the Olympics one year later. In both Athens and Beijing, the Americans had several last-minute injuries.

By Kelly Whiteside, USA TODAY

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