The U.S. womens gymnastics team showed up to the National Indoor Stadium Sunday night ready to shine with a sure plan to qualify for the team final. Well, they qualified, but not with the same plan they had when they entered the stadium.
As team USA walked out onto the floor their was distress showing on their faces, but no one watching knew why. Next, Samantha Peszek, who was supposed to compete in all four events, never took off her warm-up suit. What was going on?
The announcers searched for answers, panning from coach, to Peszek, to her mother and back. As we later found out fifteen minutes into the competition, Peszek had sprained her ankle during warm up on the floor and did not seem to be competing at all.
The team was clearly stressed by the sudden change in plan, which was first obvious on their faces, but later even more evident when the first two U.S. gymnasts to compete, Bridget Sloan and Alicia Sacramone, stepped out of bounds during their floor routines.
Sacramones performance on the floor, which is usually her specialty, cost her a chance at competing in the individual finals. The U.S. team seemed to be crumbling right before our eyes.
Peszek did compete in the uneven bars and cleanly landed her dismount despite the painful ankle sprain she endured just a couple hours before. However, Peszeks teammates, Chellsie Memmel and Nastia Liukin were not as lucky. Both had uncharacteristic falls in the event.
With Peszek out of three of the four events, the team was without a throwaway score on floor, vault and beam, which meant there was no room for mistakes if they wanted to go on to the team finals.
By the final rotation, the balance beam, team USA got it together and it might have been thanks to the pep talk Sacramone gave before her teammates took to the beam. They all nailed their routines.
In the end, team USA was in second place, despite an uncharacteristic performance by the defending champions. The girls huddled with their arms around each other and gave words of encouragement to one another and showing the fans watching on tv that team USA would be back, as the team to beat, in the finals. Watch out China!