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Olympics 2012: Aliya Mustafina wins gold for Russia
Americans Gabby Douglas, Sam Mikulak fail to medal in event finals
On this night, however, she was as brilliant as she’s ever been.
Mustafina’s uneven bars routine is packed with so many difficult skills it leaves her gasping for air by the time she’s finished. But she makes them look easy, flipping and floating from one bar to another. Her execution is exquisite, her toes perfectly pointed, her legs razor straight.
When she landed, she threw up her hands in triumph and turned on a megawatt smile. When her score of 16.133 flashed, coach Evgeny Grebenkin picked her up in a bear hug, and chants of “ROSS-EE-YAH!” (Russia) rang out.
Only Douglas was left, and what slim chance the all-around champion had at a medal ended when she stalled on a handstand. The gold was Mustafina’s, and the Russian could not stop staring at the scoreboard when the final results posted, a proud and satisfied smile on her face.
She now has a complete set of medals, following her silver from the team competition and bronze from the all-around.
“I was hoping very much I’d done everything I could to win it,” Mustafina said. “It’s the worth of all the hard work I’ve put in.”
Tweddle might have given Mustafina a real run for the gold had she not landed low on her dismount, needing to take two steps back to steady herself. But after her disappointment four years ago, any medal was as good as gold for Tweddle.
“I saw myself in third and I thought: ‘Please don’t be fourth again,’” she said. “I just can’t put into words what it means to me.”
The British have become a surprise force in gymnastics — they won four medals at these games — and it was Tweddle who led the way. Her bronze at the 2003 world championships was the first world medal for a British woman, and she won Britain’s first world title, on uneven bars, three years later. She has since added two more world titles, one on floor exercise in 2009 and another on bars in 2010.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Tweddle said after securing her bronze. “It’s the one medal that was missing from my collection and I’ve always said I don’t care what color it is.”
By Tammy Bruce
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