The American Ladies took to the Vault in the first rotation, started running, and never looked back. Three Amanars. Three great landings. Three great scores. Jordyn Wieber silenced her critics with a 15.933 to lead the way. Gabby Douglas proved she is one to beat with a 15.900. McKayla Maroney proclaimed “I am the Champion” with a 16.233, earning a likely record-breaking 9.733 in execution.
Russia rotated with the United States, but some shakes on the Vault appear to be what set in motion their rough times. Aliya Mustafina showed that she is back with a stuck Yurchenko Double Twist. Viktoria Komova completed a clean Amanar to reiterate her challenger status. Paseka stumbled out of her Amanar, denting Russia’s chances at the start.
China Began on the Uneven Bars, their strongest event. Romania started on the bars as well, but Romania has historically struggled here. China performed well, capped off by strong performances by Huang Qiushuang and 2008 Olympic Uneven Bars Champion He Kexin. Romania survived the Uneven Bars with their medal aspirations intact.
Across the arena, Great Britain and Japan took to the Balance Beam. Notorious for being the make or break apparatus in women’s gymnastics, the Balance Beam treated Britain and Japan fairly well to start off the competition. British All-Around hopeful Hannah Whelan managed to hit her difficult Aerial + Layout Stepout tumble sequence, but did have a rough go on her dismount, nearly sitting it down and taking a few large paces backward.
Italy and the newcomers from Canada got their days started on the Floor Exercise. The Floor was kind to the Italians and Canucks and set up Canada to have their best team finish in their first Olympic Team Final in history. Italy didn’t fare so well, overall, however, finishing a disappointing 7th.
The first rotation ended with the United States in the lead over China, Russia, and the strong Canadian team.
Rotation two brought the competition closer than ever as the US and Russia took to the Uneven Bars. Russia is beautiful on this event and has the difficulty to back it up. Still, even with solid routines from Grishina, Mustafina, and Komova, Russia was unable to surpass a clean and solid American team and the US held onto the lead of 0.399.
China and Romania put on a show on the Balance Beam, the strongest event by far for both countries. Small errors proved costly for China here, though, while Romania remained solid.
On the Floor, Japan and Great Britain performed cleanly, though neither were brilliant. In her third and final Olympic Games, 27-year-old Beth Tweddle of Team GB won over the crowd with a well-executed Floor Routine. Japan’s clean dance made their routines a sight to behold, even though they lack the difficulty needed to challenge for a medal.
On Vault, Canada came on strong with three solid vaults from Dominique Pegg, Brittany Rogers, and Elsabeth Black. Italy was less fortunate, though they were fairly solid.
At the halfway mark, the USA retained it’s lead over Russia, China, Canada, Romania, Italy, Great Britain, and Japan.
In the third rotation, things got even more interesting, until balance issues saw Russia begin to falter ever so slightly.
(this post to be updated upon review of the entire competition)