- Jackie MacMullan, ESPNBoston.com columnist
- 0 Shares
LONDON -- Aly Raisman was, in a word, bewildered.
Having just completed her floor routine to her trademark "Hava Nagila'' soundtrack, the American gymnast turned her eyes to the Olympic video board, which flashed a 15.133 score that left her tied with Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina in the standings after four rotations.
At the time, Russian Viktoria Komova had not performed her floor routine, leaving Raisman and Mustafina temporarily tied for second.
"But we knew Komova was in a position to medal,'' conceded national team coordinator Martha Karolyi.
Once Komova performed her floor exercise and propelled herself into second behind gold-medal-winning American Gabby Douglas, that left Raisman and Mustafina deadlocked and seemingly tied for the bronze.
As the gymnasts retreated from the floor, Raisman looked up at the scoreboard one more time -- and was stunned to see her status change from tied for third place to fourth place.
"I wasn't sure,'' she said afterward, "until a media member told me back here [in the mixed zone].''
In a controversial ruling that will likely be discussed for days (and perhaps weeks) to come, Raisman lost out on the bronze even though Mustafina fell off the beam earlier in the competition.
According to the rules of the Olympic tiebreaker, the three highest scores of each gymnast are totaled and the lowest score is thrown out. Based on that criteria, Mustafina was able to jettison her flawed 13.66 beam score. Her superlative uneven bar score (16.1), the highest score of the day for any gymnast, gave her a total of 45.933, while a heartbroken Raisman, who had her 14.2 beam score dropped, finished percentage points behind at 45.366.
"I don't know how you calculate it,'' said Raisman's coach, Mihai Brestyan. "We don't see how [the judges] score it.''
Brestyan added that "maybe it's a bit harsh and controversial'' to leave Raisman off the medal stand.
"I feel sad,'' said Raisman, who did well to maintain her composure throughout. "I was so close.''
Raisman's own subpar performance on the beam ultimately cost her the bronze. The normally composed team captain admitted she experienced a case of the jitters leading up to her beam routine.
"I was last up, and I was nervous,'' she confessed. "I was trying to stay warm, but I was waiting a long time.''
Raisman also chose to perform a slightly more conservative floor routine after struggling to stay inbounds during her warm-ups.
"No regrets on that,'' she said. "If I had stepped out it would have been a major deduction.''
"I feel badly for her,'' Karolyi said. "Usually Aly is so calm. I cannot know what happened. If she does her normal routine [on the beam], she'd categorically be in third place.
"It's a big shame. She had a little bit of a mental break there.''
Raisman made headlines earlier in the week for capturing the second spot in the individual all-around ahead of world champion Jordyn Wieber, one of Raisman's closest friends. Wieber and her teammates were in the stands Thursday evening to show their support for Raisman and Douglas. Just days earlier, the women's gymnastics team captured the team gold medal in the all-around.
"I'm still an Olympic champion,'' Raisman said. "I just wish I could have been on the podium tonight as well.''