Aly Raisman has long been known as a mentally tough, incredibly consistent gymnast.
So it was quite a shock for fans to see Raisman, 18, make a major, uncharacteristic error in the women’s gymnastics all-around final on Thursday, leaving her just shy of a medal.
But Raisman’s Olympic experience isn’t over yet. She’ll compete on the balance beam and floor individual finals on Tuesday.
“I’m really excited about that,” Raisman (who won team gold earlier in the week) told reporters after a tie-breaker left her off the podium Thursday. “I’m just going to keep working hard and move past it.”
“It is what it is, it’s a learning experience,” she added. “I’m only human – everyone makes mistakes.”
Her coach had a more detailed explanation. “When it is about the team, she’s giving everything,” says Mihai Brestyan. “When it’s about herself, something gets wrong there. I don’t know what. It’s a shame. But being third [or] fourth in the world, in Olympic Games, still it’s a good thing even if you don t have the medal on your neck.”
The Jordyn Wieber Factor?
Brestyan says he also wonders whether the drama over Jordyn Wieber (who is blogging for People.com) being edged out of the all-around had something to do with Raisman’s performance. (Each country can only send two athletes to the all-around, so despite high scores, Wieber was bumped by Raisman and Gabby Douglas’s higher scores.)
Before the all-around competition, “She was fine, she did her normal routine, her warm up was perfect – I don’t know what happened,” says Brestyan. “The big pressure was, you take Jordyn’s place first and everybody feels bad because you take the World Champion’s place. They are not happy for you, they are mad for Jordyn, and you feel really bad and you carry this with you.”
“You come here to prove yourself … and you are more under pressure than anybody else, and this is part of that. I try to encourage her. She’s usually very calm and studied in her execution.”
Team coordinator Marta Karolyi weighed in as well, telling reporters, “Oh, I’m extremely disappointed for Aly. She is so calm and so solid. I honestly could not know what happened. Just hitting her normal routine, she would be categorically on [the podium]. It was a little bit of a mental break.”
But Raisman isn’t making any excuses as she reflects on the medal she missed – demonstrating an impressive display of sportsmanship in the process.
“I was hoping they’d give [me and Aliya Mustafina] both the bronze medal, but obviously they didn’t, so it’s definitely upsetting, but I’m still happy for the girls who were on the podium,” says the gymnast. “I’m happy for Gabby and really excited for her.”
• Reporting by LIZ CORCORAN and SIMON PERRY