By Diane Pucin Los Angeles Times
LONDON — Happy tears, sad tears, so many tears for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team Sunday.
The women qualified first for Tuesday’s team final, but that was the secondary news.
Jordyn Wieber, the 17-year-old from DeWitt, Mich., who was the defending world all-around champion and a co-favorite for Olympic gold in that event with her teammate Gabrielle Douglas, made uncharacteristic mistakes on vault, uneven bars and floor exercise and was unable to qualify for the all-around final.
Only two gymnasts per country are eligible for the all-around final and each event final. Wieber stood fourth overall in the all-around standings Sunday, but she was only third on her own team and therefore ineligible for the all-around final.
Captain Alexandra Raisman, 18, was the unexpected top scorer for the U.S. women with her final total of 60.391. She and 16-year-old Douglas, with 60.265, will represent the U.S. in Thursday’s all-around competition.
Wieber finished with 60.032 points.
Russia’s Victoria Komova led the all-around qualifying with 60.632 points.
U.S. team coordinator Martha Karolyi seemed stunned by the results rather than cheered by them.
“You try to find words because it’s almost like someone passes away,” Karolyi said. “What do you say? But the fact is the fact. Jordyn did her best and she was edged by her teammates.”
Wieber’s coach, John Geddert, spoke briefly to the media before rushing Wieber away. “She hasn’t said a word,” Geddert said. “She doesn’t talk. She’ll go into her little shell and it will be a while until she comes out.”
Raisman had finished fourth at the 2011 world championships that Wieber won. The two are friends.
But when it came time for Raisman to claim the desired all-around spot over Wieber, Raisman seized it.
Needing to score at least 15.200 on her final rotation, floor exercise, Raisman dazzled. She uses the Hebrew song “Hava Nagila” as the base for her performance, and Raisman, who won a world championship floor exercise bronze medal last year, let her smile loose for the crowd before the happy tears arrived.
But Raisman tried to keep her celebration tiny in contrast to her big floor skills.
“I was really surprised,” she said, seeming to admit that she didn’t expect herself to be in the top U.S. spot. “I feel awful because she wanted it so bad. But she should still feel proud. She’s an Olympian.”
Wieber, weeping, rushed past reporters. She was later quoted by the Olympics news agency as saying, “It’s a bit of a disappointment. It has always been a dream of mine to compete in the all-around final of the Olympics.”
A collection of unusual mistakes made it seem Wieber was a bundle of nerves. She had a small step out of bounds on her vault, her legs wavered on an uneven bars handstand and then she landed a key tumbling pass out of bounds.
“She was very good but not quite as sharp, and the other two girls surpassed her,” Karolyi said. “What can you do? Sport is sport.”
Event finals: Wieber and Raisman both qualified for the eight-woman floor exercise event final. McKayla Maroney of Long Beach was the top qualifier for the vault final; Douglas and Raisman advanced to the balance beam final and Douglas advanced on the uneven bars.