In a rather stunning surprise for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Jordyn Wieber (above, left), one of the favorites for the women’s all-around title (if not the favorite, as the reigning world all-around champion) was knocked out of the all-around competition despite finishing the qualifying day with the fourth-highest overall women’s score.
Why? Because each country is only allowed two competitors in the all-around competition. And U.S. competitors Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman (above, right) finished ahead of Wieber. The Top 24 individuals get to compete, unless one of those 24 has two countrymen already qualified ahead of them. Then that person is skipped over in the standings.
It was a brutal outcome for Wieber, who would have a legitimate shot at the gold medal in the all-around if she was competing.
And in the midst of Wieber’s tears of disappointment on the sidelines of the arena, Aly Raisman cried tears of happiness. Raisman was not really mentioned in the all-around conversation prior to the Olympics, but on qualifying day she nailed her routines and finished with the second-highest women’s score of the day to make the all-around.
“I can’t even believe what’s going on … I’m so happy, I’m speechless,” says Raisman.
But ever the professional and good sport, Wieber had nothing but praise for her teammates.
“It’s a little bit of a disappointment,” says Wieber. “It’s always been a dream of mine to compete for the all-around at the Olympics, shoot for that gold medal. But I’m really proud of Aly and Gabby both. And I’m glad that I’ll be able to help the team out in the team finals.”
In the wake of the upset, several gymnastics personnel were talking about how unfair the rule is that countries can only have two in the all-around. Bela Karoyli, who coached the 1996 women’s gold medal-winning team, says that if it’s an Olympic final, it should be the Top 24 gymnasts regardless of country.
And Romanian gymnast Catalina Ponor tweeted, “Jordyn is out of AA. People want to see the best in AA enough of the two per country rule!”
The U.S. still finished first in the team standings and will still be a top contender for gold. In the individual event finals, McKayla Maroney qualified on vault; Gabby Douglas on bars; Douglas and Aly Raisman on beam; and Raisman and Wieber on floor. Kyla Ross did not qualify on any event finals, again due to the two-per-country rule. She finished sixth overall on the balance beam, but will not compete on that event final because Douglas and Raisman finished ahead of her.