Well there’s always more than one way to look at a situation…
I think that’s what all three team medalists from the women’s team final are going to have to remember as they look back on this competition for years to come. What seemed at first to be one of the most error-filled team finals ever ended up providing quite a dramatic finish, not to mention a historic moment for the Russian women.
Bronze medalists: China. They essentially went 9 for 12 – not bad, but not what the Olympic champions were hoping for. The positives included three super vaults after having serious problems on the event in training, a sensational performance by He Kexin on bars in a high-pressure situation, solid beam sets from Jiang Yuyuan and Deng Linlin, and three strong floor routines in a noble attempt to salvage a chance for the title.
Two major mistakes on bars (Huang and Jiang) and one on beam (Sui Lu) proved too much to overcome, but they’ll be back. More medal opportunities in the all-around and event finals still to come for China.
Silver Medalists: USA. The Americans actually had quite a good competition overall, hitting 11 for 12 routines under intense pressure. They hit their three crucial bar routines right out of the starting gates, posted the highest beam total of the competition, and finished with three great vaults in the final rotation to move ahead of China and make a serious final run for the gold. Rookies Aly Raisman and Mackenzie Caquatto were fantastic, Olympians Sloan and Sacramone came through like veterans, and Bross was pretty solid.
The biggest downside was that the routine they missed cost them DEARLY, as Mattie Larson’s floor routine scored a dismal 12.533 – nearly THREE POINTS lower than she scored on Day 2 of the Visa Championships. I believe she took out her front layout out of her 2 ½ – a pass she normally does as well as anyone – and then fell on her double pike. That double pike has given her more than a little trouble over the past two years, and it will be interesting to see if they finally take that skill out. Such a shame the world didn’t get to see the Mattie Larson that we saw two months ago…that Mattie would have helped put this team on top of the world.
Gold Medalists: Russia. Having two Amanars on vault has done wonders for this team’s scoring potential, and really helps compensate for mistakes on the other events. It was amazing to see that even after this team suffered THREE falls on bars in rotation 2, their big-scoring vaults and Mustafina’s brilliance helped keep them afloat. Rather than becoming dismayed by these disasters, they moved on like warriors and hit their next six routines. Semenova played a critical role as a solid leadoff on beam, Dementieva recovered emotionally from bars and came through on beam and floor, Afanasyeva delivered one of the best floor routines of her entire career, and Mustafina continued to be her magnificent self. In the end, the Russians proved victorious, and have now made history by winning their first ever world or Olympic title as an independent nation.
Romania was solid and served notice they may be ready to challenge the “Big Three” over the next two years. Japan improved significantly over their preliminary performance and finished an impressive fifth – a great confidence booster for the all-around for Koko Tsurumi and perhaps a foreshadowing that they, too, may be a serious contender when the worlds comes to their home country next year.