American gymnast Gabby Douglas fell short of winning a third Olympic medal, finishing eighth out of eight in the women’s uneven bars final at North Greenwich Arena.
But the 16-year-old ‘Flying Squirrel‘ who led the U.S. to team gold and then won the individual all-around entered Monday’s competition at a considerable disadvantage, given that her routine had the lowest difficulty score among the eight finalists. The difficulty score makes up roughly half the gymnast’s total score; an execution score accounts for the rest.
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The gold went to Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, who impressed both technically and artistically to earn a score of 16.133 for a routine that was capped by a one-and-a-half twisting double-tuck dismount.
China’s He Kexin, the gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Games, took silver (15.933). Hers was the most technically complex routine, earning a difficulty score of 7.100.
Britain’s Beth Tweddle, 27, competing in her final Olympics, held nothing back on the execution of her routine and drew enormous cheers upon landing. Judges gave her a 15.916, marking her down for a step off the primary landing mat on her dismount. She finished with the bronze.
Douglas went last among the field of eight and had a few wobbles, earning a 14.900 for her effort. Her difficulty score was 6.300, while Kexin performed a routine with 7.100 difficulty marks.
Even if executed to perfection, Douglas’s routine, then, would almost certainly have ranked no higher than fourth overall. Still, she was capable of performing it better than she did Monday. Her most glaring mistake was an over-amped handstand that wasn’t perpendicular. And she suggested that physical and emotional fatigue played a part in her eighth-place finish.
“Coming into the bar final is definitely a big challenge for me,” said Douglas, who cited the superior technical rigor of Tweddle’s bronze medal-winning routine and the impeccable lines of Mustafina’s gold medal performance.
“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.”
She’ll have another chance to medal Tuesday, when she competes in the balance beam final.