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Olympics 2012: Jordyn Wieber slowed by leg injury, leaves with one medal
She’ll leave it with only one, her aching right leg in a protective boot and lingering questions over exactly what went wrong.
The world champion finished seventh in the floor exercise final on Tuesday after another methodical performance, leaving her as one of only two members of the gold-medal winning Fierce Five to head home without an individual medal to call her very own.
Oh, and then there’s that suspected stress fracture in her right leg, the one that limited the 17-year-old in practice in the run-up to the games. Did she mention that?
“We can’t do the numbers, we couldn’t train,” said John Geddert, her coach. “I had to set her down on a lot of landings. We couldn’t do beam dismounts. We had to cut back on things and water down. But it is what it is.”
Wieber downplayed the injury, saying “it’s fine” and that it wasn’t painful enough to keep her from performing.
Maybe, but she lacked her usual precision on arguably her best event, stepping out of bounds early in her typically dynamic 90-second floor routine and removing her from medal contention.
She fought back tears as the music ended. Geddert gave his star some space and was already doing interviews by the time good friend and teammate Aly Raisman celebrated the first-ever gold on floor by an American.
It wasn’t the ending Wieber or her sometimes fiery coach envisioned after capturing the world all-around title in Tokyo last fall. She entered the year focused on joining Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin as Olympic champions.
Instead, she was caught by teammate Gabby Douglas at trials six weeks ago, then surpassed by good friend Raisman in all-around qualifying in London on the second day of the games. Wieber finished with the fourth-best total but was just the third-highest American, and the rules limit just two gymnasts per country in the finals.
Confidence regained, Wieber drilled all three of her events as the U.S. won its first team gold in 16 years.
It was sweet redemption, but was quickly followed by an unexpected week off. She insists the down time waiting for the floor final didn’t bother her.
“It was tough sitting in the stands watching because 100 percent of me wanted to be out there competing. But you know, I’ve just got to follow the rules,” she said. “It stinks but that’s the way it turned out.”
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