Late June: 2008 Olympic team member Bridget Sloan’s chances at a second Olympic team disappear when Sloan injures her shoulder warming up on uneven bars at the Olympic Trials. Sloan withdraws from contention and says she’ll prepare for an NCAA career at Florida.
July: Olympic team announcements abound. The U.S. names Jordyn Wieber, Kyla Ross, Gabrielle Douglas, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney to the women’s team after Douglas edges Wieber to win the Olympic Trials and the guaranteed spot. The men’s team chooses John Orozco, Danell Leyva, Jonathan Horton, Jake Dalton and Sam Mikulak in spite of the fact that Mikulak has recently suffered an ankle injury.
July: The second night of Olympic Trials is filled with memorable moments, especially from Nastia Liukin, who takes a final bow in competition by courageously finishing her bar routine after falling in her Gienger and performing on beam in spite of the fact that her Olympic chances had disappeared. Rebecca Bross, a year removed from tearing her patella on vault, melts down on bars, falling three times and not finishing the routine. She does perform an excellent routine on beam to close out her Olympic season.
July: Romania hosts a rare in-country meet 20 days before the Olympics begin, which is mostly a showcase of Olympic routines, including new floor routines choreographed by Adi Pop for several team members, notably Sandra Izbasa (to Pink Floyd) and Catalina Ponor (to “Fever”).
July: The Romanian men decide to leave Marian Dragulescu at home from the Olympics. Dragulescu promptly announces his retirement.
July: Training footage shows China’s Huang Qiushuang landing an Amanar on a hard, non-podium surface, boosting speculation that she could factor into the all-around in London.
July: U.S. Olympic replacement athlete Anna Li reveals that she’d like to learn a Kovacs on uneven bars.
July: Training with the U.S. replacements in Birmingham, Li mistimes a double layout dismount off bars and lands on her neck. She’s taken to a hospital and treated for a torn neck ligament, and tweets a photo of herself giving a thumbs-up in a neck brace. Li is advised to return to the United States, but insists on staying to watch the Olympic proceedings unfold in London. She later reveals that she will need stabilization surgery if she wants to continue in gymnastics.
July: The American women’s sojourn in London gets off to a questionable start when McKayla Maroney re-injures an already injured foot while doing a roundoff on the balance beam in London, setting media speculation aflame. In spite of doing very little during the official training days and in podium training, she appears to be prepared to vault for team USA in team prelims.
July: Speculation surrounds Romania’s Larisa Iordache after she sustains a heel injury before podium training in London. The Romanians first say she will not compete, though she does train bars during podium training. But Iordache does indeed compete on the day, qualifying to the all-around final and ends up being a replacement for Diana Bulimar on balance beam in finals.
July: Pre-Olympic favorites Kohei Uchimura and Philipp Boy have dismal performances in men’s team qualifications in London, Uchimura finishing ninth all-around, by far his worst performance of the quad. Boy, competing with a battered body, crashes his Dragulescu vault and limps through the rest of the competition. He does not make any event finals and is bested by teammates Fabian Hambuechen and Marcel Nguyen for the all-around final due to the two-per-country rule.
July: A day after standing in line for several hours to carry the flag for Bulgaria in opening ceremonies, Jordan Jovtchev, in his sixth Olympic Games, makes rings finals. It’s a tremendous moment for a sport that generally heralds younger bodies.
July: Partly due to errors from China and Japan and partly due to their own prowess, the U.S. men find themselves in gold-medal position after team prelims, an unprecedented placement for them. Strong showings from Russia, Germany, Ukraine and Great Britain indicate that the three-up, three-count team final will be very close.
July: The U.S. women dance through a largely error-free team qualification and final to win their first team gold since 1996, recording some of the Games’s most memorable moments along the way. Among them: McKayla Maroney’s stuck Amanar vault in team finals, Aly Raisman’s parents watching her bar routine in team prelims and heartbreak for Jordyn Wieber as she finishes fourth all-around in prelims but is edged out of the all-around finals by Raisman and Gabby Douglas, who finish second and third, respectively, due to the two-per-country rule. Russia’s Viktoria Komova has one of the performances of her life and ends the qualifying round in first place.
July: Russia collapses during the final rotation of the Olympic team final with large mistakes on floor from Anastasia Grishina and Ksenia Afanasyeva, effectively handing the U.S. the gold medal and cutting the suspense. But they manage to stay ahead of Romania, which finishes in bronze medal position.
July: Even without Peng Peng Lee, the Canadian women rise to the occasion in London, finishing a best-ever fifth as a team and qualifying Brittany Rogers and Ellie Black to event finals on vault.
July: Early mistakes cost the U.S. men the chance to medal in men’s team finals in London. The Americans know medal hope is gone after the fourth rotation and will have to wait another four years for a second shot at the medal podium.
July: In the three-up, three-count men’s team final, China shows just how resilient it can be, coming back from fifth place after prelims to win its second consecutive team gold medal over Japan and Great Britain.
July: The men’s team final is upended on the final routine of the competition when Kohei Uchimura misses his pommel horse dismount. The meet is stalled for about 15 minutes as the Japanese appeal Uchimura’s score and the judges review tape of the dismount to determine whether it really was a dismount or not. Upon review, the judges decide that yes, it was a dismount and bump Uchimura’s score by 0.7, moving Japan from fourth to silver medal position, bumping Great Britain to bronze and a disbelieving Ukraine to fourth place.
August: Gabrielle Douglas makes history by becoming the first African American gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title, beating Viktoria Komova in a performance that came down to Komova’s early miscue on vault costing her the gold medal. Aly Raisman and Aliya Mustafina tie for bronze after both fall from balance beam, but Mustafina wins the tiebreaker. We can only wonder what might have been had Jordyn Wieber competed as well.
August: Uchimura comes alive during the clean-slate men’s all-around final to win his well deserved Olympic gold medal with only a small mistake on floor marring an otherwise near-perfect performance. Uchimura also picks up a silver medal on floor in event finals.
August: Germany’s Marcel Nguyen becomes his country’s new gymnastics hero with surprise silver medals in the all-around and on parallel bars. Nguyen, who got a tattoo across his chest saying “Pain is temporary, pride is forever” before the Games, wisely chooses to conceal the ink with makeup in competition.
August: The U.S.’s Danell Leyva starts small in all-around finals and is near the bottom of the pack after two rotations, but gets better with every event and fights his way to a bronze medal, cheered on every step of the way by his stepfather and coach, Yin Alvarez.
August: China’s Feng Zhe wins the Olympic title on parallel bars, ahead of Nguyen and surprise bronze medalist Hamilton Sabot of France.
August: In one of the Games’s best finals, Epke Zonderland trumps a field of extremely worthy competitors to finally take gold on his best event at his second Games (he was fourth on high bar in Beijing.)
August: China’s Zou Kai becomes his country’s most successful Olympic gymnast as he picks up his fifth Olympic gold medal by winning floor with a difficulty packed routine. For good measure, he picks up a bronze on high bar as well.
August: As a reward for team bronze medal and an all-around good job, the British team hobnobs with Catherine, the Dutchess of Cambridge, during event finals. “She asked a lot of questions,” was the word from the stands.
August: Aliya Mustafina caps off a remarkable comeback from a torn ACL in April 2011 by nailing her bar routine in event finals to win gold over 2008 Olympic champion He Kexin and a host of very, very talented barworkers in one of the most thrilling bar finals in recent Olympic history. With four medals (gold on bars, silver with the team, and bronzes in the all-around and on floor) Mustafina is the most decorated Russian athlete of the Games.
August: 2009 World beam champion Deng Linlin, who most did not expect to be on the Olympic team back in 2011, stuns by winning gold on beam, upsetting 2011 World beam champion and teammate Sui Lu, who takes silver. After a score inquiry over her start value, Aly Raisman ties with Catalina Ponor for bronze, but this time it’s Raisman who wins the tiebreaker, which galvanizes her to gold on floor with a flawless routine.
August: Britain’s Louis Smith and Hungary’s Krisztian Berki tie for gold on pommel horse, but due to a higher execution score Berki is awarded the gold. Britain’s Max Whitlock, all of 19, takes bronze.
August: In a controversial judging decision, Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti stuns 2008 Olympic rings champion Chen Yibing to win Brazil’s first Olympic gold in gymnastics. The medal galvinizes the Brazilians, who will host the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and Zanetti becomes a national hero overnight. Jordan Jovtchev finishes eighth in the rings final after bobbling his dismount.
August: The Fierce Five adjust to newfound fame upon returning home from London. Her meme known around the world, McKayla Maroney in particular has some adjusting to do, especially after she receives at least one marriage proposal and her family hires a bodyguard. The gymnasts soak up special opportunities, including appearances on The Colbert Report and ringing the trading bell on the New York Stock Exchange before heading home briefly for a rest.
August: Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova both announce plans to continue training and competing into the next quad. Mustafna specifically mentions gunning for Rio in 2016.
August: Gabby Douglas gives the pledge of allegiance at the Democratic National Convention and announces she has two book deals in the works with Christian publishing house Zondervan.
August: South Korea’s Yang Hak Seon, whose family lives in a converted greenhouse in an impoverished area and relied on his national team salary to live, nails his own vault (handspring front triple full) and sticks a Tsuk triple to win the gold on vault over Russia’s Denis Ablyazin and Ukraine’s Igor Radivilov. Yang later discloses that he is also nearly ready to compete the Yang II, a handspring front layout with 3.5 twists.
August: With Olympic bronze on bars to possibly close out her Olympic and international career, Beth Tweddle becomes the only woman outside the big four countries (U.S., China, Romania, Russia) to win a medal in gymnastics in London.
August: The shocker of the Games comes when injured McKayla Maroney falls on her Mustafina vault in event finals in London and cedes the gold to Romania’s Sandra Izbasa, who performs less difficulty but stands up both vaults cleanly. In a nod to how much the Amanar vault is worth, Russia’s Maria Paseka wins bronze over Germany’s Janine Berger, causing upset and protest from German gymnastics fans.
August: Maroney’s disappointed-in-herself expression on the medal podium becomes a meme titled “McKayla is not impressed” that quickly goes viral, catapulting Maroney to a fame parallel to Gabby Douglas’s.
August: Douglas, meanwhile, becomes America’s sweetheart as endorsement deals and big time exposure opportunities line up. The Fierce Five return to the U.S. for a whirlwind media blitz in New York City before heading off to rehearse for the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Superstars.
August: Jordyn Wieber reveals that she had a stress fracture before the Olympic Games and will need to wear a boot for six weeks to allow it to heal. The injury likely contributed to her not-quite-up-to-par performance at the Games.
August: In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Gabby Douglas is frank about the racism and bullying she had to endure as a young gymnast in Virginia Beach, leading her former coaches at Excalibur to make statements to try and defend themselves. The issue causes a firestorm of controversy on the internet as fans take sides.
September: Wieber’s coach John Geddert posts a Facebook photo of his new tattoo, NBC’s 2012 Olympics logo, giving Marcel Nguyen competition for most outrageous ink of the year.
September: McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman are injured on bars within a minute of each other during the second stop of the post-Olympic tour. A viewer’s video footage of the event, which includes Maroney being carried off the mat after a bad landing on a layout dismount and Raisman smacking her legs on bare concrete, goes viral and raises questions about safety on the tour. Maroney undergoes surgery to repair a torn fibula.
September: Britain’s Louis Smith “unofficially officially” retires from gymnastics, and prepares to go on Britain’s dancing reality TV series “Strictly Come Dancing,” which he and partner Flavia Caccia win in December. In other dance-related news, Shawn Johnson returns to the ballroom for an encore during “Dancing with the Stars’s” All Star season. Although she is generally lauded as the best dancer and general favorite to win, she and partner Derek Hough finish second to reality TV series star Melissa Rycroft and partner Tony Dovolani.
September: The Russians unceremoniously fire Alexander Alexandrov as head coach of the team and elevate Yevgeniy Grebyonkin, the team’s bars coach, to head coach, obviously hoping he can make the Russians as untouchable on the other three events as they currently are on bars. Whether Alexandrov will remain to coach protegee Aliya Mustafina remains to be seen.
September: Psy’s “Gangnam Style” inspires a whole raft of new floor routines.
October: The U.S.’s Brenna Dowell and Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev win the Mexican Open in Cancun, which also features a return to competition from 2011 European Champion Anna Dementyeva, who finishes third all-around.
October: The Welsh women and Finnish men triumph at the Northern European Championships in Glasgow. Sweden’s Ida Gustafsson and Denmark’s Helge Vammen win the all-around titles.
October: Zou Kai gets engaged to his longtime girlfriend.
October: Ukraine’s Mykola Kuksenkov, fourth all-around at the announces that he will move and compete for Russia from here on out.
October: John Orozco tears his ACL doing a double front half out on parallel bars during practice on the tour, and tweets that the injury is not immediately taken seriously by the tour’s medical staff. After an evaluation confirms Orozco has sustained an ACL tear, he leaves the tour early and heads home to New York for surgery.
October: Italy’s Bruno Grandi is re-elected President of the FIG for another four-year term, beating Romania’s Adrian Stoica and Russian banker Vassily Titov.
November: Swiss favorite Giulia Steingruber and 2012 Russian Olympian Igor Pakhomenko capture the all-around titles at the mistake-riddled Artur Gander Memorial in Switzerland.
November: Quashing retirement rumors, Martha Karolyi is confirmed as the U.S. women’s national team coordinator through the 2016 Rio Olympics.
November: Germany’s Fabian Hambuechen and Elisabeth Seitz take advantage of a last-rotation fall from Marcel Nguyen to take back the Swiss Cup title they won in 2010 on Seitz’s 18th birthday.
November: Just after their two-year competition suspension for faking the age of a gymnast is lifted, the North Korean men’s and women’s teams make a big impression by winning multiple medals at the Asian Championships. The biggest impression of all is made by the superhuman vaults of Ri Se Gwang, who lands a full twisting Tsuk double back.
November: China’s tiny Shang Chunsong sets herself up as one to watch in 2013, especially on uneven bars, where she has a wide variety of release skills. So does Zeng Siqi, a first year senior, who wins the all-around.
November: McKayla Maroney and the Fierce Five meet U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. Obama poses for a photo with Maroney, both doing the “unimpressed” face, which Obama tells Maroney he does “at least once a day.”
November: The Russian and Canadian juniors are the big winners at Elite Gym Massilia in Marseille, France. Especially impressive is Canada’s Heaven Latimer, who shows a layout full twist on beam. The Canadians go on to do well at Top Gym in Belgium a short time later.
November: Kohei Uchimura quietly applies for a marriage license to an unknown woman in Tokyo, and asks for privacy with his new wife, who is revealed to be expecting a baby in the spring.
November: Romanian Olympian Diana Chelaru and veteran Amelia Racea announce their retirements as a new young generation takes the stage at the Romanian nationals.
November: The gymnastics community rallies around 15-year-old level 9 gymnast Jacoby Miles from Puyallup, Wash. after she crashes a double back dismount on bars while training at her gym, paralyzing her from the mid-chest down. To date, more than $200,000 has been raised for her care. Jacoby returned from the hospital to her newly remodeled house just before Christmas.
December: Philipp Boy announces his retirement from gymnastics, citing injuries, mental fatigue and the difficulty of finding a sponsor.
December: The U.S.’s Elizabeth Price romps the field at the Stuttgart and Glasgow World Cups, winning both all-around titles by a mile and setting herself up for more in 2013. Marcel Nguyen bests the field at both meets as well.
December: Gabby Douglas’s book, “Grace, Gold and Glory: My Leap of Faith” is released just in time for Christmas. In it, Douglas reveals that her family lived in a van briefly while she was a child, and details her strained relationship with her father.
December: Anna Dementyeva and junior Evgeniya Shelgunova win the Voronin Cup, the year-end competition in Moscow.
December: John Geddert announces that Jordyn Wieber plans to compete at the 2013 U.S. Championships, and that she’ll return to training following a second gymnastics tour, Teen Choice Live, which hits the east coast this winter.
December: Liang Chow announces that Gabby Douglas will not return for the 2013 season.
December: 2008 Olympic silver medalist and UCLA star Samantha Peszek tears her Achilles tendon in training for the upcoming NCAA season. Peszek, along with teammate Alyssa Pritchett, had been training a double twisting double back on floor exercise.
Related: The 2012 Gymnastics Year in Review, part I (January-June)
Whew! 2012 was quite a year in gymnastics, wasn’t it? Read previous Gymnastics Years In Review by clicking the links below:
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