“It’s really hard, of course, just because we’re best friends, and I know how bad she wanted it,” said Raisman, of Needham, Mass. “That was one of the first things I said, that I feel so bad because she worked so hard, too. It’s tough that only the top two gymnasts go [to the final]. But I know she is still a good friend and she’ll still be happy for me.”
While there was nothing controversial about the outcome — no allegations of favoritism, no disputes over scores — Bela Karolyi afterward faulted the order in which the U.S. gymnasts performed on each apparatus.
It’s customary for countries to send out their weakest gymnast first and close with their strongest performer. Wieber wasn’t chosen to go last (or “anchor” her team) on any of the events, while Raisman was chosen to go last on the beam and floor.
In Karolyi’s view, that indicated to the judges that Raisman was the better gymnast and deserved the higher score.
“This is a definite lineup mistake,” Bela Karolyi said. “Wieber should have anchored on the floor.”
The U.S. lineup was decided by a vote of the five gymnasts’ individual coaches. According to Bela Karolyi, Martha Karolyi had recommended that Wieber go last on the floor exercise, but the U.S. coaches rejected her proposal.
That said, it’s difficult to believe that a different starting order would have altered the outcome.
Wieber didn’t score the highest mark for the U.S. team on any apparatus, finishing second on the vault, third on the uneven bars, fourth on the balance beam and second on floor.
Four gymnasts qualified for at least one event final: Raisman (beam, floor), Douglas (uneven bars, beam), Wieber (floor) and McKayla Maroney (vault).
The pressing question now is whether Wieber can regroup and perform better in Tuesday’s team final, in which three gymnasts perform on each apparatus, and all three scores count.
“We will have to support her, and we will have to explain that this is sport,” Martha Karolyi said. “Things happen. You have to be able to turn the page.”