News Column

Underdog Gabby Douglas Edges Wieber for Top Spot on US Gymnastics Team

July 2, 2012

Andrea Gallo

Gabby Douglas

After a series of close second-place finishes in previous competitions, Gabby Douglas flashed a smile Sunday when she delivered a charismatic and energetic floor routine in edging out national and world champion Jordyn Wieber for the automatic berth on the U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team.

Douglas will contend for the all-around championship at the London Olympics, hoping to become the third consecutive American to win the gold medal.

Joining Douglas on the U.S. team will be Wieber, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross. Sarah Finnegan, Anna Li and Elizabeth Price will be alternates.

"I'm kind of up on the top and just, wow, it feels so amazing," Douglas said. "I'm just so excited to represent Team USA."

Wieber, a two-time national champion who finished one-tenth of a point behind Douglas, most likely will be her biggest competition in London. Wieber led the competition for most of the Trials and has consistently performed well on the world stage.

"My main goal was just to go out there and have fun and perform because I know all of my skills are there, and I didn't have to worry about them," Wieber said. "I just had to focus on doing what I needed to do."

Raisman, Maroney and Ross each will bring her own specialty as the Americans seek the team gold medal. Maroney, the world vault champion, recorded the competition's highest score on that apparatus, 16.15. Raisman had the top scores on floor and beam, and Ross posted the second-highest score on uneven bars and finished tied for first with Douglas.

"It's the absolute best feeling knowing that I worked so hard for this," Maroney said, "and all the hard things that I've accomplished. And just being on this team with these girls, they're my best friends, and I mean my teammate Kyla Ross, we've been best friends since we were 6 years old, so it's absolutely amazing."

Raisman said she had "butterflies all week" and making the team felt as if her dream was starting to come true.

While Raisman and Maroney were often considered locks for London, Ross' 15.65 score on uneven bars propelled her onto the team, which had only one competitor -- Douglas -- performing consistently well in the event. Ross called it "an honor" to go to London.

The crowd of more than 17,000 gave two standing ovations to 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin, who attempted a comeback but fell off her signature event, the uneven bars.

The spectators showered her with applause after the bars and beam, and Liukin began to cry.

"To be here, and in front of thousands and thousands of screaming fans and not just screaming, but to see them on their feet not once, but twice ... I think it means more than anybody will ever know," Liukin said. "You couldn't have planned out a better way to end my career."

The remainder of the U.S. men's team also was announced Sunday. Along with Danell Leyva and John Orozco, who were named to the squad Saturday, Jake Dalton, Jonathan Horton and Sam Mikulak will go to London. The alternates will be Chris Brooks, Steven Legendre and Alex Naddour.

Source: (c)2012 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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