Pitted against the world’s best uneven-bars specialists, Douglas finished last in the field of eight in Monday’s apparatus final.
With the grace that has defined her performances, Douglas praised the technical and artistic superiority of the medal winners: Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, who scored 16.133 points to claim gold; China’s He Kexin, who took silver (15.933); and 27-year-old Beth Tweddle of Britain, whose bronze (15.916) capped a dogged Olympic career.
“Seeing them achieve their dreams and achieve their goals, I’m very excited for them,” Douglas said.
She confessed she was drained physically and mentally from the rigor of her first Olympics, which no doubt contributed to the uncharacteristic mistakes in an uneven-bars routine she had performed better twice last week.
“No matter how much rest you get, you wake up and your body is just so tired because you train every day and you compete every other day,” Douglas said. “You go back in the gym, it’s very hard. Your body is stiff.”
And she vowed that Tuesday, her final day of competition, would be better following what she hoped would be a good night’s sleep.
She and Aly Raisman will compete on the balance beam. Jordyn Wieber, the reigning all-around world champion who stunningly missed qualifying for the all-around final, will join Douglas in vying for gold on the floor. And two American men also will conclude their Olympics on Tuesday in the horizontal bar final: Jonathan Horton, of Houston, and Danell Leyva, of Miami, who claimed bronze in the men’s all-around.
Douglas started Monday’s uneven bars competition at a considerable disadvantage, given that her routine had one of the lower difficulty scores among the eight finalists. And when she skipped a skill in trying to smooth over a mistake, her difficulty score was dropped to 6.300, lowest in the field.
China’s He, by contrast, earned 7.100 points for her routine’s complexity.
Even if Douglas had executed her routine to perfection, she likely would have finished no higher than fourth overall. But she fell short of that, her most glaring mistake an off-kilter handstand.
“Coming into the bar final is definitely a big challenge for me,” Douglas said. “I made a little mistake, but I’m human. And when you get toward the end of the Olympics, you’re kind of physically drained and tired.”
Regardless of how Tuesday’s beam final unfolds, Douglas’s Olympic debut has been a triumph that has captivated American TV audiences, Madison Avenue marketing executives, untold youngsters around the globe with gold medal dreams and the sport’s original Olympic darling, Olga Korbut.
Korbut, who won three gold medals at the 1972 Games with her daring skills and megawatt smile, said in an interview before Monday’s final that Douglas’s confidence and charisma caught her eye the moment she saw her perform.