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Sunday was a day of tears of joy and tears of sadness for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team.
When they qualified first for Tuesday’s team final, they should have been overjoyed, but it was a bittersweet moment Jordyn Wieber.
In a shocking turn of events, the 17-year-old defending world all-around champion made a series of uncharacteristic mistakes, causing her to finish fourth during qualifying Sunday.
Only the top two team members are allowed to move on to the highly coveted all-around competition, so Wieber lost her chance for a spot in the final. Her teammates, captain Alexandra Raisman, 18, and Gabrielle Douglas, 16, were given the two slots.
The elite gymnast broke down into tears when she found out she had not made the all-around finals for the first time in her competitive career.
“It’s hard to explain these feelings. But I’m extremely honored to be an Olympian and be a part of this team,” the gymnast Tweeted on Sunday.
Wieber was so distraught that she couldn’t speak to reporters after the event on Sunday. A statement was later released by the London Games’ internal news agency and attributed to Wieber: “It is a bit of a disappointment. It has always been a dream of mine to compete in the all-around final of the Olympics.”
Wieber’s exclusion from the all-around has sparked a heated debate about the two-person rule. While Wieber still placed fourth overall, she isn’t able to compete because two of the higher scorers were her own teammates. However, athletes such as Ashleigh Brennan from Australia, who finished nearly six points behind Wieber, will receive a slot.
Wieber’s coach John Geddert called it an “injustice” that the reigning world champion would not be able to compete in the event. Gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi told NBC’s Bob Costas that the rule is “absolutely unacceptable.”
“This is the all-around final,” Karolyi said. “The first 24 should be in the competition, nobody else.”
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