LONDON -- Bad sportsmanship in women's gymnastics? Nyet!
Russians Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina, who won silver and bronze respectively in the women's gymnastics all-around competition Thursday evening, were in good spirits as they answered questions from reporters during post-meet press conference at the 02 Arena.
The two Russians were complimentary of American Gabrielle Douglas, who won the gold medal by 0.259 over Komova, the reigning World all-around silver medalist. "She performed beautifully today," 17-year-old Komova said through a translator. "And I believe that she earned her gold medal. She was very, very good tonight."
Echoed Mustafina: "I absolutely agree with Viktoria. She was fantastic. She didn't make a single mistake. She became the leading athlete from the very beginning."
Komova was understandably disappointed after a near perfect floor set left her in silver medal position in a nail-biter of a final rotation. As she waited for her score, she and Mustafina huddled in the middle of the arena, their hands clasped to their chests in what appeared to be prayer.
When it came -- 15.1 to the 15.033 Douglas had posted moments earlier -- and her name appeared in second place on the scoreboard, she looked devastated, perhaps haunted by deja vu from the 2011 Worlds, when she also ended on floor and waited for the score believing and hoping she had won, only to collapse in tears when she found out she had come second to American Jordyn Wieber.
The routine she performed Thursday night was far stronger than the one she had showed in Tokyo nine months ago (indeed, in terms of her form and execution it was one of the best performances of the Games on floor), but it still wasn't enough to beat the surging Douglas, who has been a machine so far in the ever-unpredictable sport of gymnastics. Douglas was the only member of the American team to perform on all four events in both team prelims and team finals. She has yet to make a big or even moderately large mistake.
The Russians, although they have gotten some bad press in the past for not showing as much sportsmanship as they might have, seemed happy with their performances.
"I'm totally happy with my performance today, with the exception of beam," said Mustafina, who jumped off after a standing Arabian in the third rotation. "Perhaps I was not confident," she said in assessing her performance. "Not totally confident that I would get a medal., let alone a bronze. Of course, any fall is very bad. It's very bad. It's very difficult to be one of the three leading athletes after you fall like that."
"I am proud about what I've done today, but nevertheless I am a little disappointed because I wanted to gain the gold medal," Komova said. "Well, it didn't happen."
Komova has qualified for event finals on uneven bars, where she is the reigning World champion, and balance beam, while Mustafina will compete on uneven bars and floor exercise. Douglas will compete on bars and beam in event finals as well.
Thanks to the Russian women's silver medal performance in the all-around, Komova has now earned two silvers, while Mustafina has a silver and a bronze to her credit. With two Olympic gold medals (team and all-around), Douglas now has matched American Shannon Miller, for most golds in gymnastics. Miller won two golds in 1996.