Gymnast Jordyn Wieber leaves the 2012 Olympic Games a gold medal champion. She, along with her four teammates in Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney, won the team gold medal for the first time since the “Mag Seven” did it in 1996.
But Wieber, probably the most hyped up female gymnast to come into these games, will leave London with that one medal, and that one medal only. To many, this is still a huge success. To Wieber, this isn’t how it was supposed to go.
See, what was supposed to happen was she was going to help her team qualify, which she did. Then, she was going to finish as a top eight all-arounder who would advance to the all-around finals. She succeeded in that, however a technicality kept her from advancing those dreams. An Olympic rule states that only two all-around competitors may advance per country, and Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas had beat her out by mere tenths.
Jordyn, the fourth best all-around gymnast in the world according to prelim results, did not advance the all-around finals. That wasn’t part of the plan. However Wieber, the good teammate she is, had the most important job of her Olympic career ahead of her.
What was supposed to happen next was Wieber was going to help her team win gold. And in that, she succeeded, turning her frustrations of missing all-around competition into a fantastic team finals performance. But with event finals coming up, Wieber wanted more.
She was, however, the reigning 2011 world champion, and still needed to show the world how great of a competitor she was. She only had qualified to floor exercise finals, so she would have one shot to bring home another medal to accompany her gold. But that didn’t go as planned, either. An awkward landing on her first tumbling pass, something highly uncharacteristic of her, an out-of-bounds landing on another, and a bobble on some of her dance moves, landed her in seventh place, far from her dreams of individual medals and her dreams of how the Olympics were supposed to go.
Wieber struggled to hold back tears after seeing her result, knowing in her heart that her routine wasn’t all she was capable of. Again, being the gracious and supportive teammate she is, she congratulated Raisman on her first place gold medal finish.
Raisman will leave London with her team gold, a bronze medal on beam, and a gold medal on floor. If you had asked the media, critics, and bloggers how the Olympics would go, not many would have guessed these results. Raisman, a wonderfully solid and reliable gymnast, wasn’t supposed to come home with more medals than world champion Wieber, but that is how it went. Raisman proved herself at these games, peaking at the exact right time, while Wieber faltered just enough to keep her from performing how she wanted.
Wieber is undoubtedly a wonderful person and world-class gymnast. She was down and upset at times, but was always there for her teammates. She may not have the all-around gold medal like Gabby Douglas, or an individual event medal like Raisman or Maroney, but she is still, in the eyes of many, one of the world’s best gymnasts to ever compete in the sport. She rose to the occasion in so many other national and international meets, and my hope is that no one forgets how dominating her performances have been.
We’re also learning that there are signs she’s been dealing with a stress fracture in leg throughout these games, a testament to her mental and physical toughness.
USA team doctor Larry Nassar said, “She’s had soreness and now there is a lump there. So, she’ll be in a boot tomorrow, finish out the Games, get an x-ray, and then an MRI. It’s the same leg as her heel injury. She’s been having problems since training camp.”
Her coach, John Geddert, guesses that the two emotions Wieber feels the most right now are “unfulfilled” and “dissapointed.” She’ll leave London and get ready for the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions (after spending six weeks in a walking boot), and then will have to decide where her gymnastics career goes from there.
Her performance in London is not a failure, and was not an upset by Gabby or Aly. Each girl on this team was capable of winning medals. Wieber gave it her all, and I think we sometimes forget that these are young girls who have tremendous amounts of pressure on their shoulders not only for how they perform for themselves, but how they perform for their country.
Wieber has lived up to this pressure for years now, and unfortunately had a few uncharacteristic performances in the Olympic games. Not winning an individual medal should not define Wieber’s gymnastics career.
I don’t know about you, but I’d say her so-called “off-day” leading to her finish as the fourth best all-around gymnast in the world (in qualifications), means she is pretty darn good.
Here is to hoping Wieber realizes her amazing accomplishments, hangs her gold medal with pride, and for the sake of gymnastics fans everywhere, comes back for more.