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It took a little while but America’s initial golden girl — Shawn Johnson — finally got that gold medal she was desperately seeking. Johnson’s gold came in the balance beam exercise and she outpointed overall gold medal winner and teammate Nastia Liukin to win. The beam victory salvaged what could have been a disappointing Olympics, because while she’s won three silver medals, her sites were set on a gold rush. Her balance beam exercise was just the thing to end the golden drought.
For Liukin, who finished second to Johnson, the silver medal represents her fifth of these Olympics, tying an American record for gymnasts. However, considering the uneven bars debacle, there has to be a level of disappointment for Liukin to deal with.
Nevertheless, the Johnson/Liukin gold-silver finish culminated a successful Olympics for the women’s gymnastics team who won eight medals, despite their less-than-stellar start in the team competition.
Amid announcer claims of bad judgment, the duo of Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson completed the gold/silver finish
the two friends dreamed about since they knew they’d be going to Beijing together. It was beautiful mastery of an assortment of flips, twirls, twists and stuck landings that put the teammates on the stand with Liukin taking the gold and Johnson securing the silver.
The bronze was won by China’s Yang Yillin and the three were separated by .675 points as Liukin finished with 63.325 points, Johnson with 62.725 and Yilin with 62.650. Liukin’s gold represents only the third American to win the all-around women’s gymnastics competition, something her father felt she was meant to do, as indicated by his statements after the event was decided:
“It wasn’t easy for Nastia to be second, but I never believed Nastia was No. 2,” Valeri [Liukin] said after the event. “Some judges maybe like Shawn, but Nastia’s level of gymnastics is high. We calculate our course and come to the conclusion she is not second. She just makes mistakes.”
Apparently, Liukin’s father is not too high on his daughter’s competition, including her friend and silver medal winner Johnson. Nevertheless, it was an incredible floor exercise that secured Liukin’s gold. Johnson was the last to perform the floor exercise and she needed a 15.4 and change to pass Yilin and she delivered. Knowing she couldn’t score high enough to pass Liukin took the pressure away from Johnson and she delivered a floor performance worthy of a silver medal.
I’ll close this post with a still of the magnificent Liukin in mid-flip because… well, because it’s more impressive to look than the words used to describe it:
See what I mean?