Holding a substantial
lead going into her last
event, floor exercise,
Komova thought she
had won the gold until
her score was flashed.
When she dropped to
second place, she
sobbed in the arms of
her coach, Gennady
had a flukey mistake,” Wieber told IG. “It wasn’t something I was
struggling on at all in practice. And after that, I really had to put
it out of my mind, because I still had two more events to go and
I knew it wasn’t over yet and I could still redeem myself.”
Komova took advantage of the situation with a silky set on her
best event, highlighted by her eponymous inside-Stalder to
Shaposhnikova-half. She used the difficult inside-Stalder in com-
bination four times, but her toes clipped the bar on a layout
Jaeger, and she needed a quick shuffle of the feet to control her
tucked full-out dismount. Still, her 15.400 not only erased her
.783 deficit to Wieber, but pushed her 1.017 ahead of her rival!
Wieber had been in this position before. At the American Cup
last March, she fell off bars but never gave up mentally. She
closed with clutch routines on balance beam and floor exercise
and defeated Mustafina, who fell on floor, by .068. “Yeah, it was
almost exactly like American Cup, in a way,” Wieber said later.
Suddenly sitting in fourth after two rotations—behind Komova
and the Chinese duo of Yao Jinnan and Huang Qiushuang—
Wieber needed another strong finish in Tokyo. But she’d have to
wait on balance beam, where Komova was drawn to go first.
Under the circumstances, however, beam became the perfect
storm for Komova.
Despite the loss of training time because of her ankle injury,
Komova’s biggest challenge in Tokyo appeared to be her new
center of gravity. Since the Youth Olympics she had experienced
a growth spurt that made her impossibly lithe limbs and torso
even longer. And while having a dancer’s physique is usually a
glorious asset for aesthetics, it rarely comes in handy when landing tricky acrobatics, especially on a narrow beam. Toss in the
mounting pressure of leading a world all-around final, and the
result was there for all to see.
Komova began without a hint of nerves, landing her high