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Aly-lujah: Raisman caps strong U.S. showing

By Michael Rushton, Olympics Writer

London, England (Sports Network) - No longer will Aly Raisman be able to sit in the shadow of her gymnastics teammates. It's just too hard to stay out of the light with such an impressive medal collection.

Raisman capped off yet another strong showing by the women's gymnastics team by claiming two more medals on Tuesday, a gold in the floor exercise and a bronze in the final of the balance beam event.

If winning team gold for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games was the highlight of the London Games for Team USA, then Raisman's performance was icing on the cake, a final sign of just how deep this roster was.

Already flush with a former all-around world champion in Jordyn Wieber and an up-and-comer in Gabby Douglas, who earlier took her turn in the spotlight after winning all-around gold, Raisman had her own coming out party in London. The captain of the team fulfilled her role past expectation, even if it had its bumps along the way.

The 18-year-old jumped to the forefront of the media frenzy with a surprise qualification in the all-around event. Of course, she didn't have much time to enjoy it as her advancement came at the expense of best friend Wieber, who had the fourth-best score but couldn't take part because of rules that state only two gymnasts from one country can perform in the all-around.

That soured Raisman's enjoyment for a time, but the sweet taste of team gold made up for it.

That was, until, at the all-around final, where Raisman matched Russian Aliya Mustafina's score for third place, but was denied a bronze as she lost out on the tiebreaker.

Karma righted things on Tuesday, when Raisman initially finished fourth in the final on the balance beam. She sat just behind Romanian and 2004 balance beam gold medalist Catalina Ponor's score of 15.066 that left her in third place.

However, following an inquiry, Raisman's score was raised one-tenth of a point and into a tie with Ponor. This time it was the American who claimed the tiebreak, as her execution score of 8.766 was 0.3 higher than Ponor's.

Nothing but the final score was needed for Raisman in the floor exercise after her earlier medal helped to relax her.

"It felt like redemption. I went out into the next event with a really good feeling. I wanted to win a medal in an individual event, so once I achieved that goal it felt like I could just go out there and enjoy myself," she said.

It was her previous routine on the floor that helped get her into the all- around final. She topped all gymnasts with a 15.325 score and showed on Tuesday that she had plenty left in the tank.

Following Douglas' flameout on the beam -- a seventh-place finish -- and Wieber's struggles in the floor exercise on Tuesday, it was safe to wonder if the motivation was gone from Team USA due to its earlier success.

Raisman silenced those thoughts. Her routine was scored the most difficult (6.500) and was completed in near-flawless fashion. The 5-foot-2 gymnast nailed her tough, powerful opening tumbler pass and it was smooth sailing from there.

The result: 15.600, fourth-tenths of a point higher than silver-medal winner Ponor.

"It was the best routine I've ever done," proclaimed Raisman. "My coach said it was the best routine he'd ever seen me do."

To be honest, Raisman may have been okay with leaving the London Games with just the team gold. Instead, she became the first U.S. gymnast -- male or female -- to win gold on the floor exercise.

"To have won a gold medal, two gold medals, is really special," she said.

08/07 14:38:20 ET


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