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U.S. wins second gymnastics world championship gold medal

October 13, 2011 |  1:31 pm

The winner, Jordyn Wieber, cried, a bouncy, athletic American astounded that her two mistakes on uneven bars and floor exercise didn’t relegate her to second place.

The loser cried too, an elegant Russian whose fingers and toes must have been pointed just so when she entered the world. Victoria Komova burst into tears after she finished her final event -- floor exercise -- with a routine that was done with some bent knees and maybe a turn that wasn’t quite completed.

The U.S. captured the second major women’s gold medal awarded at the 2011 World Gymnastics championships in Tokyo when 16-year-old Wieber of DeWitt, Mich., won the all-around gold medal by edging out 16-year-old Komova, who won silver.

The U.S. women already won the team gold medal and the U.S. men won team bronze.

Wieber, the U.S. all-around champion in her first senior world championship competition, finished with 59.382 points, 0.033 head of the saddened Komova.

“I was so surprised to see my name up on the top,” Wieber said, “but I was so happy at the same time. It was an amazing feeling.”

Speaking to International Gymnast magazine, Komova, who had suffered an ankle injury in July, said: “My vault was not as fully ready as it should have been. On beam I had mistakes and my bars were not very well done. My floor routine was mediocre.

"Today, on a beam I did not make some connections, therefore, that's why the lower score.”

Yao Jinnan of China won bronze and another American, Aly Raisman, finished fourth and, like Wieber, had a major mistake on uneven bars.

Wieber, coached by John Geddert, became the sixth American to win a world all-around title, joining Kim Zmeskal, Shannon Miller, Chellsie Memmel, Shawn Johnson and Bridget Sloan with the honor. Notable about that group, though? None followed up with an Olympic all-around gold.

Johnson dominated the 2007 world championships and beat out her American teammate Nastia Liukin. But it was Liukin who came back a year later and wowed judges with an elegance that seemed to trump Johnson’s more strength-based gymnastics.

The last reigning world champion to win the Olympic all-around gold was Lilia Podkopayeva in Atlanta in 1996.

With the win Thursday, Wieber and Komova automatically become Olympic favorites along with another Russian, Aliya Mustafina, who won the 2010 world title but who missed this competition with an injury. 

Also last week, Liukin announced she was making a comeback, and so is Olympic all-around silver medalist Johnson, who will show how far she’s come later this month in the Pan-American games.

After making a major error on the uneven bars where she almost came to a stop on a swing, Wieber was convinced she had lost the competition. But she recovered with the best balance beam routine of the night to cut Komova’s lead almost in half. But Wieber finished on floor exercise by taking a step out of bounds and it was after that when she buried her head in Geddert’s shoulder.

“I told her I was proud of her no matter what,” Geddert said. “She was mad because that mistake on bars was going to cost her and she knew it.”

Even Martha Karolyi, the U.S. women’s team coordinator, thought gold was gone after Wieber’s bars. “But Jordyn is such a strong person,” Karolyi said. “She’s just somebody with real special abilities who is able to fight back as strong as she did.”

-- Diane Pucin


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Photo: Jordyn Wieber. Credit: Koji Sasahara / Associated Press.