Floor exercise propels Aly Raisman to Olympics’ gymnastics finals

NEW YORK (JTA) — American Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman reached the Olympics women’s artistic gymnastics finals, beating among others teammate and world champion Jordyn Wieber.

Raisman finished second overall in the qualifying round with a total of 60.391, including a 15.325 on the floor exercise that was the best among all the competitors at the London Games. She also finished fourth in the vault, fifth on the balance beam and 23rd on the uneven bars in the qualifying, which ended Sunday.

Raisman, 18, of Needham, Mass., will compete in the all-around finals starting Tuesday along with fellow American Gabby Douglas — only two gymnasts per country make the finals. Wieber will be a member of the U.S. squad in the team finals.

“Aly’s success today just proves that hard work pays off,” U.S. coach Martha Karolyi said, according to AP. “She’s one of the most serious and hardest-working girls in training. So finally it came true, and she was able to perform at the [highest] level.”

Wieber’s failure to qualify for the finals was an upset; she has lost just two all-around competitions since 2008.

“I was really surprised, and I feel awful because she wanted it so bad,” said Raisman, Wieber’s closest friend on the team and the one who knocked her out of the all-around, The Associated Press reported. “But she should still feel proud because she’s an Olympian. We have to stay calm and focused on team finals.”

Wieber and Douglas appeared to be on course to repeat the duel that Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin staged in Beijing four years ago.

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