LONDON – When Gabrielle Douglas is doing her best gymnastics – when she is swinging so fast around the uneven bars that she makes the air buzz, or when she tiptoes across the balance beam and you notice her smile because she makes a somersault seem so routine – other gymnasts seem to fade away.
Douglas, a 16-year-old from Virginia Beach, Va., has the dazzling personality and outstanding skills to make other gymnasts disappear into the background.
But just when it seems time to pronounce her the best or most talented gymnast, there will be a thud. Oops, that was Douglas falling off the balance beam at the U.S. national championships, a mistake that cost her a point and the title that went to Jordyn Wieber.
When it mattered here at the 2012 Olympics, though, on qualification day, Douglas avoided any big kabooms.
And so she will be among the favorites today when the Olympic gymnastics women’s all-around is contested.
Instead of another head-to-head battle against Wieber, who is the world champion, Douglas, 16, will compete next to the surprise American qualifier, Alexandra Raisman of Needham, Mass. Eighteen-year-old Raisman’s historic strength has been her calm team leadership rather than ability to be a star.
“I don’t want it to stop,” Douglas said.
Swimming: Gold-medal finals men’s 200-meter backstroke and 200 individual medley, and women’s 200 breaststroke and 100 freestyle. Beach volleyball: Men’s team of Rogers /Dalhausser (U.S.) vs. Benes/Kubala (Czech Republic). Rowing: Women’s 8 gold medal final.
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