Posts Tagged With: Gabby Douglas

Highlights of the 2012 Olympics

By JULIE JAG
jjag@santacruzsentinel.com

LONDON – In a whirl of color and sound bites of familiar tunes by British stars, London said goodbye to the Olympics.
Sunday’s closing ceremonies packed in the slightly stale stars and the crowds, filling the 80,000-seat Olympic stadium fuller than a steak-and-ale pie. Yet, that fanfare and the excitement over the torch being passed to Rio de Janeiro in 2016, paled in comparison to the Games themselves.
Perhaps it’s because this is the city’s third go-round with the Olympics, or my first time covering them live, but London seemed to know the script by heart. Here were some of the highlights:

Best Athletes in the Best Venues
The number of dream matchups that play out during a short 17-day span is mind boggling for someone who hasn’t been to an Olympics before. Every day I was here I felt like I saw one epic sporting event and missed three or four more.
I saw Serena Williams, probably at the top of her career, completely dismantle Maria Sharapova in the intimate atmosphere that is Wimbledon. A week later I went to Wembley, the historic soccer stadium, to watch the USA women’s team get its sweet revenge and a gold medal against Japan. In between, I crammed into a press box to glimpse Usain Bolt proving he really is the fastest man alive and snuck into swimming to see Michael Phelps get a step closer to the Olympic medals record. That list doesn’t touch the memorable moments from swimming, diving, equestrian, boxing, wrestling, taekwondo, volleyball, basketball and more that have sadly begun to blur together.

Giddy over Girl Power
Women had more of an influence on these Games than any other. The U.S. sent a higher number of women than men for the first time and they repaid the effort with far more medals than their male counterparts. So did the women of China and Russia. But that’s not what made this Olympics one of girl power. That had more to do their lasting impact.
Gabby Douglas stood out for more than her hair and may have altered the sport of gymnastics as a result. Gold medal beach volleyball players Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor gave a clinic in how far a strong bond, bolstered by some couples therapy, can take a team. And Claressa Shields and Marlen Esparza made a big impact by winning medals in women’s boxing, a new sport this Games, to show women can be tough and feminine and to keep the U.S. from its first-ever boxing shutout.
And that’s just for starters. The maturity, grace and freakishly fast swimming of 17-year-old Missy Franklin and the spunk of the U.S.’s first judo medalist Kayla Harrison made a lasting impression. So did the picture of a Saudi Arabian woman running the 800, marking the first time that country allowed a woman to represent it in the Olympics.

Brits Break Out the Olympic Spirit
It turns out the Olympic Spirit does exist, and not just in the text of the International Olympic Committee’s charter or the words of an official’s speech.
Though there had been some grumbling about the cost of hosting the Games during an economic downturn, the British turned out in droves to support “Team GB.” When local sweetheart Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon, they created more noise than a fleet of jumbo jets. But they didn’t limit their applause to the home team, [which is good since last-minute tickets weren’t available to foreign fans], giving rousing support to any valiant effort.
Nor did the British limit their goodwill to the stadiums, which seemed to take even them by surprise. In one press conference, a British reporter asked a panel of IOC and London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games [LOCOG] about the troubling trend of people actually talking to each other on the Tube, as the underground railway is called.
“I would like to unreservedly apologize to you for the outburst of excitement and commeraderie on the Tube,” Sebastian Coe, the LOCOG chair, responded in typically wry humor. He added, s“I think it’s fantastic.”
The pleasantries may not last long. One local reporter suggested they might be over before Sunday night’s dousing of the flame since two popular soccer teams with little love for each other, Manchester City and Chelsea, began their preseason Sunday afternoon.
Still, one can hope that the effects, like the careers of the many aging stars brought out for the closing ceremonies, will linger.

Categories: Athletes, Events, Kerri Walsh, Olympics | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Julie Jag: Long legacy, short attention span for gold-medal gymnast Gabby Douglas

U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas performs on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women’s individual all-around competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

By JULIE JAG
jjag@santacruzsentinel.com

LONDON — Squirrel!
Flying Squirrel to be more specific. That’s one of the nicknames for Team USA gymnast Gabby Douglas, and it was impossible not to be distracted by her as she dominated every facet of the Olympic women’s individual all-around competition on her way to winning gold Thursday at the O2 Arena in the riverside borough of North Greenwich.
“My little squirrel fly extra high today,” said national team coordinator Marta Karolyi. “What I admire is she performs with extreme lightness and I think that was one of the qualities that actually the international judges appreciated. She wasn’t struggling, she wasn’t just barely pulling through the skills, she was really flying through the air — just like her little name says.”
The 4-foot-11 Douglas held a strong lead heading into her final event, the floor exercise, where she hopped, bounced and, yes, flew to the gold medal. Russia’s Victoria Komova, who recorded the top score in qualifying, finished with silver. In a heartbreaking moment for the U.S. team, Aliya Mustafina, also of Russia, was awarded the bronze medal on a tiebreaker over Team USA captain Aly Raisman.
Raisman and Mustafina each finished the four-station event with scores of 59.566 points. Yet Mustafina edged the American on the sum of her three highest scores, the first tiebreaker, and mostly on the strength of a jaw-dropping 16.1 she posted to win the uneven bars. Likewise, a shaky balance beam performance realistically cost Raisman the medal.
“I’m definitely really sad,” said Raisman, trying to put on a brave face, “but I’m really excited for Gabby.”
Douglas shined on each apparatus, but her performance on the balance beam really set her apart. Karolyi said that as recently as five months ago, Douglas — whom she called an “average-good gymnast” at the time — would get easily distracted whenever she mounted the beam, using the opportunity to search for friends and family in the stands. With the individual title on the line, and with an arena of close to 20,000 fans — many of them waving American flags and chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A” — to search, Douglas tried to keep herself disciplined.
“It’s very tough for me to focus. I’m kind of like ‘Focus! … Oh, something shiny. Focus! … Oh, there’s a butterfly,’” Douglas said. “It’s hard for me to maintain my focus, but if you want to stay on top then you have to do it. You have to learn to focus and train your body. Every time someone went, would turn my back and focus and take it one routine at a time.”
But what else would you expect from a 15-year-old?
Douglas, who will turn 16 on Dec. 31, is the second-youngest girl to win the all-around title in Olympic history. The youngest, of course, is gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci, who at 14 won gold for Romania in 1976.
That’s not the last of Douglas’ firsts, either. She holds claim to being the first to win gold in both the individual all-around and the team championship, which the USA’s Fantastic Five did Tuesday. She gave the U.S. its third straight women’s Olympic all-around champion, a first for a nation since the Soviet Union won the first three in 1952, ’56 and ’60.
And there’s that one other thing, perhaps her most significant first.
“People keep saying I’m the first African American to win the (individual) gold medal,” said Douglas, who still has a chance to add to her medal collection in the individual uneven bars and balance beam events, “and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, I forgot about that.’ It’s amazing.”
Douglas actually was the only African American in the competition. To her credit, she stood out more for her performances than her skin color.
Douglas started the afternoon on top, winning the vault with a score of 15.966. She placed third on the uneven bars behind the Russian pair. Then, after a long wait as the judges tallied a beam score for Mustafina, who had fallen off the apparatus, she took the top score in that event too. All that was left was the floor routine, the same one, performed with the same big smile that won her the U.S. Olympic Trials title in June.
“She demonstrated today that she can handle the toughest job,” Douglas’ coach Liang Chow said. “Wonderful effort, wonderful performance under huge pressure for 15 years old. That was fabulous.”
Throughout the competition, Douglas’ coach had commanded Douglas not to look at her scores. Speaking to the press after the medal ceremony, Chow commended her on being so disciplined.
“I kept my eye on her every single minute and she never looked up,” he said.
Well, that might not exactly be true.
“I snuck a peak,” Douglas said. “I looked up after vault and after bars … and after beam and after floor.”
OK, maybe the Flying Squirrel wasn’t as focused as she could have been throughout the competition. But she certainly held her own attention — and that of the audience and the judges — when it counted.
Contact Julie Jag at jjag@santacruzsentinel.com or follow her on twitter @julie_jag. For more Olympics coverage, visit the Across the Pond blog at http://www.scsacrossthepond.wordpress.com

Categories: Athletes, Events, Gabby Douglas, Gymnastics, Olympics | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Live from the women’s gymnastics all-around final

Here we go, the women’s gymnastics all-around final is beginning now. I will update posts here.

FIRST ROTATION
Gabby Douglas breaks in the vault with a solid performance with just a small hop and a big cheer afterward. She and teammate Aly Raisman are wearing sparkly magenta outfits. Gabby might have gotten an even bigger cheer than the British girl on the beam. She also scored 15.966.

Raisman is up next on vault. Much more height, but a big bounce afterward. she gets a 15.900.

Those are the two highest scores recorded so far in any event.

The camera that zips alongside the vaulters is really crazy. It shows you that they really are running fast, but reminds me of an old-school typewriter.

Japan’s Tanaka has a really crazy and kind of cool zebra striped red, black and white unitard on, while dancing to the Pink Panther theme on floor exercise. Very animalistic.

We’re on to the second rotation with Douglas still leading. Raisman is in second and Komova of Russia sits in third with 15.466 points after also competing in vault. Aliya Mustafina of Russia, 15.233, is in fourth.

SECOND ROTATION
Raisman’s about to go up on the uneven bars. Lots of cheers of Go Aly! and American flags in that corner, so that’s good for the USA girls.

Superb. It looked just about perfect to me. Lots of height, some difficult moves and she nailed the landing. She scored a 14.333 for a total of 30.233

Here comes Komova. She leapfrogs Raisman for a total of 31.432 to lead all competitors. Douglas hasn’t gone yet. She’s last on UB.
Deng Lin of China just put up a nice uneven bars routine.

Here comes Gabby …
Beautiful, that’s not going to hurt her chances. Yep, 15.733. That puts her first in that event and first overall with 31.699 points. Komova second, Mustafina third and Raisman in fourth.

THIRD ROTATION
Komova up second on beam. Fairly major loss of balance, but she recovers beautifully. I have to give it to these girls for now graceful they are and focused. Perfect landing by Kosmova. She gets a 15.441.

Douglas needs a 15.174 to regain the lead. Raisman needs 16+.

Mustafina scores 13.633 … she’s not happy.
Gabby’s up next She’s had to wait quite a while for Mustafina’s score, but her coach keeps her company and is smiling. She’s beautiful up there. A few wobbles, but solid overall.
She lands to cheers with nothing else happening at the same time. her score ….15.500, but no smile from the usually bubbly girl.

Raisman follows immediately. A less than perfect routine. It starts with her losing balance on a backflip and leaning over to nearly touch the bar as she balances on one leg. That started a chain of wobbles and a step to the left on her landing. Not good for her chances. She’s being comforted by her coach. She moves to fifth with 44.433.

Douglas leads with 47.199, the Komova 46.873, Mustafina with 44.966 and Deng Linlin with 44.466.

FOURTH AND FINAL ROTATION
This is it. If Gabby Douglas can nail this, she’s the all-around champion.
Barely stayed int he lines there for a second, but she managed to do it. In fact, that seemed to energize her. She completed it to a huge roar and unless Komova does something out of this world, she’ll be the third straight USA All around champion. How crazy is that?
Douglas’ score …15.033, giving her 62.232.

Raisman’s fighting for a medal with this floor routine. She nails a 15.133, putting her in third ahead of Izbasa of Romania. But there area couple more girls to go, including Komova, who is up next.

I guess Komova didn’t like getting 28th in this event in qualification. She’ll likely knock Raisman out of the medals, but will that bump off Douglas?

NO! Douglas wins! 62.232 points. Komova second with 61.973. Mustafin ais third and Raisman fourth.
Raisman actually tied for fourth, but she lost on a tiebreaker. Heartbreaking.

Categories: Athletes, Events, Gymnastics, Olympics | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. women’s gymnastics line-up for qualification round is set

You watched them at the trials in San Jose. Now, they’re ready for an even bigger stage. Here are the events in which the individual USA women’s gymnasts will be competing, straight from a press release. The most interesting point is that McKayla Maroney will only compete in vault.

LONDON, July 28, 2012 — The line-up for the U.S. women for the qualification round at the 2012 Olympic Games has been submitted. The women compete in the third of five subdivisions on Sunday, July 29, at 2:45 p.m., held at the North Greenwich Arena. The teams and individual gymnasts who will advance to the final rounds will be determined at the conclusion of the final subdivision.

The U.S. Women’s Team features: Gabby Douglas of Virginia Beach, Va./Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute, McKayla Maroney of Long Beach, Calif./All Olympia Gymnastics Center, Aly Raisman of Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics, Kyla Ross of Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max Gymnastics, and Jordyn Wieber of DeWitt, Mich./Gedderts’ Twistars USA.

The U.S. women’s line-up is:

Vault: Raisman, Douglas, Wieber, Maroney

Uneven bars: Raisman, Wieber, Ross, Douglas

Balance beam: Ross, Douglas, Wieber, Raisman

Floor exercise: Ross, Douglas, Wieber, Raisman

Gymnastics begins today with the men’s qualification round, and the U.S. men take the floor in the second of three subdivisions at 3:30 p.m. The members of the U.S. Men’s Team are: Jake Dalton of Reno, Nev./University of Oklahoma; Jonathan Horton of Houston/Team Hilton HHonors (Cypress Gymnastics); Danell Leyva of Miami/Team Hilton HHonors (Universal Gymnastics); Sam Mikulak of Newport Coast, Calif./University of Michigan; and John Orozco of the Bronx/Team Hilton HHonors (U.S. Olympic Training Center).

Categories: Events, Gymnastics, Olympics, Press Release | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabby Douglas wins all around gymnastics trials

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US Gymnastics women’s team announced

Wow, talk about a tight race. Gabby Douglas beat out Jordyn Wieber by .1 point — 123.450 to 123.350 — for the all-around title.

Douglas and Wieber will be joined by Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney on the Olympic team. They are coming to the stage in a deafening roar from the crowd. Anna Li is an alternate along with two others.

Douglas literally vaulted her way to the top, making up the majority of her .3 deficit heading into the second day of the trials in her first event. Douglas scored a remarkable 16 in the vault — the best score of the day in any event — but still trailed Wieber after the first rotation. Douglas then added a nearly as good score of 15.9 on the uneven bars to take the lead, the highest of the day in that event. She finished with a 14.85 on the beam and a 15.3 on the floor routine to cap her winning performance.
Wieber, meanwhile, had the competition in the bag until she wavered on the balance beam. She scored 14.9 on that event.

Categories: Gymnastics, Olympic Preparation, Olympics | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Spoiler alert — gymnastics all around champ is crowned

The scores are in, and, as it seemed from her final performance, Gabby Douglas has taken over the lead and will claim the all-around title and the guaranteed spot to the Olympics. Douglas scored a 15.3 on the floor exercise, the third highest of the night (Wieber actually scored the highest with 15.6, but it wasn’t enough to fend off Douglas.

So, Douglas is in, and Wieber will definitely be as well. As for the other two? Well, Alexandra Raisman, Elizabeth Price and Kyla Ross have been bouncing up and down between third and fifth, and Anna Li put up some stunning performances as a darkhorse. Also, the team may want some experience in Alicia Sacramone, who also had a solid showing. Stay tuned ….

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The gymnastics all-around showdown begins

Jordyn Wieber is standing on the vault runway. Gabby Douglas is at the floor exercise mat. It’s coming down to these two.

Wieber’s lead is big, but with a small hop on the landing. Wieber scores 15.8 on the vault.

Douglas kills it on the floor exercise. Her spunk and smile are contagious and all of her tumbles seem spot on. It’s going to be close.

Categories: Gymnastics, Olympic Preparation, Olympics | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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