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U.S. Gymnast Raisman Wins Bronze, Gold On Last Day


Another one of the spotlight sports has ended its run at the London Olympics. The artistic portion of gymnastics wrapped up today with several final events for the men and women. And in the women's competition, American Aly Raisman was a big winner. NPR's Tom Goldman was at North Greenwich Arena for the action. He joins me now. Hi there, Tom.


CORNISH: So Aly Raisman wasn't exactly forgotten on this gold-medal winning women's team. But she didn't have the high profile, say, of Gabby Douglas, right, or Jordyn Wieber going into the Olympics?

GOLDMAN: Right. Yeah. That's right. But you know what, Audie? That changed today. And it's amazing what a gold and bronze medal can do for your profile, especially if you win them on the same day, which is what Aly Raisman did. She won the floor exercise with a fantastic performance. Her tumbling and the height on her jumps and flips was great. Her landings were great.

And she said afterwards that one of the reasons she did so well was the confidence she gained winning her dramatic bronze medal in the balance beam earlier in the competition.

CORNISH: Yeah. Tell us about that. Because at first, it seemed like she wasn't going to medal, right?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, that's exactly right. This was the real drama of the day. She performed last in the balance beam and looked to all of us in the arena, who are not judges, like she'd done well enough to win a medal. But when her score flashed, it put her in fourth place. A lot of whistles and protest from the stands. Here's what she said about it afterwards.

ALY RAISMAN: All I could think about was, when I got that score, was that I was fourth again, which - it's definitely bittersweet being in fourth because you're excited that you're fourth in the world, but you just missed being on the podium. And I've gone fourth place like a million times.

CORNISH: And she talks about being in fourth place like a million times at the division. She's already landed in - earlier in these Olympics, right?

GOLDMAN: Right, in the women's all-round. And that was agonizing too. She actually finished tied for third but lost the tiebreaker because of the way the tiebreaker rules are set up. But today, she got even. After her score came up in the balance beam, her coach filed an inquiry - basically a protest. And after officials reviewed the videotape, they agreed that the judges had undervalued her marks.

Now, ironically, when her score got bumped up, it again put her in a tie for third place. But this time, the tiebreaker rules were in her favor, and she ended up winning the bronze. Now, it costs $300 to file these inquiries. If the inquiry is successful, you get your money back. So double happiness. The team gets its 300 bucks back, and Raisman gets a bronze medal.

CORNISH: Yeah, that's not a bad deal, right? So a great day for Aly Raisman. But I guess not so good for those two American stars that I mentioned earlier, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber. What happened there?

GOLDMAN: Douglas finished seventh out of eight on the beam. And she slipped and fell, but she clung to the beam so she never hit the ground. It was a disappointment. Still, she leaves London as a glamour girl, having won the gold medals in the two biggest events: the team competition and the individual all-around.

Wieber finishes on a down note. She came in as the reigning world champion in all-around. But, of course, she didn't qualify for the all-around final here in London. Then today, she finished seventh out of eight in the floor exercise. USA gymnastics won't confirm it, but it's believed she's been dealing with a stress fracture in her ankle or lower leg. Her coach said she feels unfulfilled and knows she missed out on medals she could've won. But they all stressed that she - they're not making excuses, though.

CORNISH: Well, a very exciting year for this team. NPR's Tom Goldman speaking to us from the London Olympics. Tom, thank you.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.