Aly Raisman Shooting for Classics


After the 2012 Olympics, Aly Raisman made it clear that she wanted to continue on in gymnastics. However, many opportunities led to a well deserved year long rest from training. She resumed her training – at a less aggressive level than most of her life – last fall.

#TBT can’t wait to be back out there.
Alexandra Raisman Twitter Pic

At the 2013 World Championships in October, Raisman confirmed that she was back in training and was hoping to make her elite comeback at the 2014 Secret US Classics. This competition will be held in Chicago, Il on August 2. Gymcastic connected with Raisman in a phone interview back in February to check in on her progress.

“Training’s been going great, I practiced this morning and I then I’m going again tonight. I feel really really good and it’s been really exciting to be watching the Olympics at the same time I’m getting back into the gym because it is such great motivation. I love gymnastics, I look forward to going to the gym every day so  I have been really really happy and I kind of feel like a little kid again in the gym.”

In the interview, Raisman said she is on track to compete at US Classics. The most challenging part has been getting used to all the hours of training again. She is exhausted all the time, but has that feeling of satisfaction. She is still working towards training the number of hours she was training before the Olympics.

This was my romantic valentines date.Things got a bit steaaaamy 😉 #justkidding #ILoveGymnastics Alexandra Raisman Twitter Pic
cortni ‏@cortni_baker  Feb 10 So proud of how well @Aly_Raisman is doing at the gym #dedication #shesback

As to her training, Raisman said that her first few weeks back on the high beam was actually scary. “I forgot how narrow and high it was!” Tumbling on floor has been the easiest to get back, though she thinks it will still be a while before she will be able to do her famous first floor pass.  

Raisman feels like she will be able to come back better than ever. Her time on Dancing with the Stars helped her gain flexibility and a lot more confidence. Wearing heels all the time also helped her toe point. She feels wiser and more confident and more calm now. Yet she still loves gymnastics and “wants it” as much as ever.

Feeling inspired. #Olympics
Alexandra Raisman Twitter Pic

Check out the rest of the interview. It is 30 minutes of Aly Raisman sitting down and “gym geeking out.” A delightful time that includes her recounting of the evening after she qualified for the All Around at the Olympics and how Jordyn Wieber responded.

Fierce Five- Hall of Fame and Future Twitter Roundup


Today the Fierce Five were inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Though we don’t have any official press releases or coverage yet, here is a twitter round-up of the event.
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Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 9.11.43 PMScreen Shot 2013-08-16 at 8.14.57 PM

Standing in The Hall Of Fame!!!!

AND the name “Fierce Five” is officially trademarked!!! WOW

Can’t believe we are in the Hall of Fame!! Such an amazing honor to share with my team mates. love them to death.

Being inducted into the hall of fame tonight with @kyla_ross96 @gabrielledoug @jordyn_wieber
@McKaylaMaroney ahhhhhhhhhh
Didn’t expect to get so emotional while being inducted into the hall of fame… Feel so lucky to have the best teammates, coaches & family

Is this real life? http://instagram.com/p/dF57LiPuc9/ 

Reunited ❤ #FierceFiveforlife

Being inducted into the Hall of Fame today!!! 🙂 https://vine.co/v/hMl7XE5Y5bv 

Loved sharing that moment with my teammates! #Fierce5

We are now in the gymnastics Hall of Fame! @gabrielledoug @McKaylaMaroney @Aly_Raisman @jordyn_wieber

We are more than just a team! Love u girls 😘 http://instagram.com/p/dF6IyVu4oO/ 

And here are a few tidbits about the futures of some of the Fierce Five.

Inside Gymnastics: Do you see yourself competing through the next Olympics? Gabrielle Douglas: “I do. Yes!”… http://fb.me/1QjK2m6i9 

  • Jordyn Wieber similar but plans on starting UCLA in the fall. Will train out there, see how it goes then maybe _ maybe _ head back to MI.
  • Aly says she’s going to get back into training soon. Not sure when. Had only brief chats with Mihai about plan.
  • Gabby says she’s still w/Chow. Says they’re working on skills. Pointed to next year’s nationals as her return if everything goes well.

Most Memorable Moments: Podium Training


The USA girls began their reign before the competition even began. As in 2011, their dominant performance in podium training foreshadowed an incredible performance in the rest of the Olympics. Some of my favorite moments were of course, a dominant performance on vault and Aly’s bars. I think Aly did the best bar routine I have ever seen from her that day. Pointed toes, feet together – it was awesome!

And apart from Kyla’s uncharacteristic fall on beam, these girls hit every single thing they did on the floor. This is not only incredible, it is intimidating. They sent the message loud and clear that just as in 2011, they came to compete consistently and fiercely.

 

Aly Raisman Rises to the Top


“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” no more for Aly Raisman, who leaves these Olympics as the most decorated American gymnast including two shiny gold medals of her very own. In today’s event finals, Aly topped off her Olympic journey with a bronze medal on beam, and that very elusive individual gold medal on floor. Finally, Aly stood on top of the Floor Podium with a gold medal, where we all knew she belonged.

There were many tears of joy and moments of heartbreak throughout these Olympics. Aly had her fair share of both. Qualifying in as the first American to the All-Around finals produced both as she reached her ultimate goal and at the same time watched her best friend’s dreams crumble. She went on to lead her team to Team Gold with one of the most dominante performances in women’s gymnastics history. Tears of joy began to flow before she even saluted the judges as she was the gymnast to clinch the Olympic Team Gold. In the All-Around final, Aly was too much of a sportsman to let tears show, but I can only imagine the moment of heartbreak at missing a bronze Olympic medal due to a tie breaker (and an unusual mishap on beam).

Today was a different sort of day. After watching two incredible beam routines by Sui Lui and Deng Linlin of China, all the gymnasts following knew that they had to be perfect to beat them. Even fighting for a bronze medal would require a rock solid performance. And that is what Raisman is known for- giving rock solid performances. As it turns out, her performance wasn’t up to her usual level of perfection, but it was still great. An undervalued D score, which led to a protest, which led to a tie with Catalina Ponor, finally led to a tie breaker that Aly was on the right side of. She finally escaped the vice grip of fourth place and won a bronze on beam. What a beautiful moment.

But apart from a team gold medal, Floor Finals is what Aly came for. She went in to floor finals in 2010 and ended up in that ever present fourth place. In 2011 she upgraded her routine and went into floor finals as the top qualifier. Finally winning her first individual medal, she came away with a bronze. So entering this floor finals as the number one qualifier was a familiar place for Aly. What wasn’t familiar was the performance she gave.

Aly went out and did one of the best floor routines she has ever done in competition. She stuck every pass, did everything with incredible amplitude AND artistry. (For a discussion on what the code defines as artistry, and how Aly fulfills it perfectly, read here). She impressed us, she impressed the judges and she even impressed herself.

In the end, Aly walked away with the gold. After all the hard work, all the almost finishing on the podiums, Aly has a gold of her very own. Here’s to the spectacular, never say die Aly Raisman. We are so privileged to watch you!

The All Around Finalists


The all-around gold medal is the most coveted individual gymnastics achievement. When people refer to the champion, they mean the all-around champion. This Olympic year has an EXCITING all-around competition in store! Most years in women’s gymnastics there is a battle between two, maybe three gymnasts for the gold medal. This year, that is not the case. This all-around final will have five gymnasts who could win the gold medal.

There are twenty- four gymnasts in all who qualified into the All-Around finals. Here are the top five who will be vying for the podium. Who will end up on top is anyone’s guess. Hold onto your hats ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a wild ride!

Viktoria Komova (60.632/25.7 Qualification)

After losing the gold to Jordyn Wieber last year by the smallest of margins, Viktoria comes into these Olympics ready to do battle – and win.  Her slight form hides the incredible power underneath. She dances like a ballerina, vaults with power and grace, swings bars like she was meant to live life in the trees and tumbles on the beam as if she was light as a feather.

Viktoria debuted her amanar for the first time in her senior career during qualifications. Adding that to her arsenal along with one of the most difficult, perfectly executed bar routines in the world right now gave her the edge she needed to qualify in first. Her beam and floor routines are both exquisite, but not very consistent. She tends to either hit or miss on beam and is often plagued with low landings on floor.  She will have to bring her best to keep her place at the top of the podium.

Alexandra Raisman (60.391/25.3 Qualification)

Aly is known to be one of the most calm, consistent competitors there is. Long overshadowed by higher scoring teammates, Aly shocked the world and herself by qualifying in as the top American. She comes in with the highest difficulty and most consistency on vault, beam and floor. However, her lower difficulty on bars, along with her poor form on this even is what keeps her from the top of the podium. She was fourth at last years world championships with a horrible mistake on bars.

Aly did the best vault of her career in qualifications, cleaning up her form issues and landing with just a small hop.  She did the best bars routine she has ever done by far during podium training, seemingly to finally overcome her form breaks.  She is generally rock solid on beam, and has scored the highest floor scores in both the team and qualifications.  Overall, Aly does not have high enough difficulty to win gold without mistakes from both Gabby and Viktoria. But her rock solid, consistent performances make her a gymnast you should not count out. After all, as we have seen, anything can happen in the pressure of the Olympic spotlight.

Gabrielle Douglas, USA (60.265/25.3 Qualification)

Gabrielle, or Gabby, has been a rising star this year. Last year, she was known for her high flying bar routine, but her mental game was just not strong enough for her to be an all-around threat. This all changed when she came roaring out of the gate as an exhibitionist at the AT&T American cup. She unofficially (her scores did not count as an alternate) ran away with the gold. Since then, Gabby has been inching away at Jordyn Wieber’s lead in every meet until she finally overtook her by .1 at the Olympic Trials.

Gabby comes in with one of the highest potential start values of the group. She has the physical ability to blow away the competition. What remains to be seen is if she can continue improving her mental game and hit the routines when they count. She qualified in third because of a large error on floor. However, she hit four for four during team finals, and her All-Around score there would have easily won the title.  If everyone brings out their best and they all hit, Gabby most likely wins. She will have to keep control of her nerves to stand on top of the podium.

Aliya Mustafina RUS (59.966/24.7 Qualification)

In 2010, Aliya was a star. In fact, it seemed she was on her way to becoming one of the gymnastics greats. Had we ever seen someone who could vault with the power and amplitude she attained and dance like a prima ballerina on floor? Someone who’s beautiful swing on bars was only outdone by her lightness and sureness on beam. Aliya won the all-around. She led the Russian team to gold. She qualified in EVERY event finals and placed on the podium in all but beam, where she had her only mistake of the entire competition. She looked unstoppable.

Unfortunately, an injury has put a serious roadblock in her path to glory. In 2011, she tore her ACL at the European Championships while performing her famous amanar. Her recovery has been difficult. She has grown and is still not used to her new body. But she has continued to train hard.

Aliya has yet to show the level of gymnastics and performance she attained in 2010 this year. She is not competing with the level of difficulty she formerly attained.  But Aliya has a competitive drive, a fierceness and focus on the competition floor like few others. She has that undefinable quality and mental drive that propels her to the front. Her team loss will only drive her more. I would not be surprised at all if she ends up on the podium.

Larisa Iordache (57.8/24 Qualification)

Larisa’s junior showings made her highly anticipated as the Romanian all-around contender at the Olympics.  She has a charming floor routine, one of the most difficult beam routines being performed at the Olympics, a solid vault and a very decent bar routine.  Her achilles heel at these Olympics has in fact been her heel. She has plantar faciitis in her left heel and has not been able to put in a great deal of training over the past week.

This has definitely shown in bother her qualification and team performances. She has not been on her game. Hopefully the additional days of rest and training will allow her to continue on the trajectory she has been on her entire career – a place on the Olympic All-Around podium.

In addition, Deng Linlin from China qualified into the top group. This group will all compete together, starting on vault.  It should be noted that Larissa did not qualify in this group and will start on bars. Once again, we all want these women to go out and have incredible, hit competitions!

 

 

 

 

Aly Raisman: Tumbling her Way to Tears of Joy


Aly Raisman, the USA Team Captain led her team to a decisive, blow out victory Tuesday night. She contributed in two ways. By performing two great routines on beam and floor and by giving leadership and her calm presence to the rest of her teammates.

The place in the USA’s line up that was potentially the most problematic was Gabby Douglas on beam. As they began to prepare for bars, Aly gave Gabby a more than a pep talk. It was almost a sergeant giving orders that must be obeyed. Nothing negative Gabby. You can do this. Do not let in anything negative.  Gabby has said before that sometimes negative thoughts that she is not good enough or can’t do it creep into her mind. It is usually these thoughts that lead to her mistakes. Seems like it helped. Gabby did a stellar routine.

As Aly is reaching her dreams, the steadfast demeanor she keeps in competition has begun to slip. At each milestone she has reached – making the Olympic team, qualifying into the All-Around and winning a team gold- tears of joy have sprung forth. As Aly finished her floor routine, the last thing USA needed to claim their gold, the tears began to seep out before she even saluted the judges. As they watched the score board she kept mouthing, I can’t believe this.

She believes it now! Aly Raisman your incredible calm, your hard work and determination and your loving spirit have brought you to this point. Now go out tomorrow and reach your final goal – an All Around Olympic medal. We believe in you!

When the Sidekick Becomes the Star


It’s like Sam throwing the One Ring into the fire, Ron Weasley fighting Lord Voldemort, Robin saving the day. Sidekicks have their own incredible strengths but in the end, they are the sidekick.  They are there to provide backup, encouragement and a helping hand. They are appreciated, but they are never the main focus. We identify with them, we love them but still we know, they are not the star. It is the Ringbearer, the Chosen One, the Superhero who is the star in the last battle.

Jordyn and Aly. It is rare that you see one without the other. Aly was listed as one of the four most influential women in Jordyn’s life. Twitter and Instagram attest to the fact that they are the best of friends. But out on the competition floor, Jordyn is the star and Aly is the sidekick. Meet after meet for the last two years, you see them together supporting each other and cheering each other on as Jordyn wins the title and Aly plays a supporting role.

I adore Aly. She is a wonderful girl, an incredible gymnast. But I, along with the rest of the gymnastics world need a little time to absorb this role reversal. Imagine watching a movie where Robin, Ron or Sam were the main character. It would take a while to stop asking where Batman, Harry or Frodo were. That is a bit what the next few days will be like.

I am so excited for Aly. I have been sad that she would not have an opportunity to try for an all-around medal. I identify with Aly more, respect her so much and can’t wait for her to go out and do her best. I have thought for a long while that consistency and mental toughness will rule the day in the pressure filled Olympics over difficulty and past high scores. And though I was not thinking of Aly, truly no one fits that description more than she.

But for today and tomorrow, I mourn the loss of my star. I will spend them readjusting their roles in my brain. Then I will pick myself back up and cheer like crazy for Aly and Gabby. Just as I know Jordyn will.