gymnastics team makes history with fifth-place finish
LONDON—When you think
of the Olympic Games, placing fifth typically isn’t the kind
of finish to incite joyful tears, fits of dancing and bouncing group
But for Canada’s women’s gymnastics team, top five
was as good as gold here Tuesday. The five-woman squad delivered
a stunning performance in a historic team final at the London Games,
narrowly missing out on a medal and letting the world’s gymnastics
powerhouses — the United States, Russia, Romania and China
— know that Canada is no longer an also-ran competitor.
“It was like being first. Honestly, like being first,”
said national team director Kyna Fletcher, with tears still in her
eyes 20 minutes later. “To break into those top four is going
to be a task, but the girls have set the bar. . . . We planned it.
We were scared to talk about it. But we knew that if we did it,
it was going to be amazing.”
The U.S. won gold in the final with 183.596 points. Russia captured
silver with 178.530 and Romania took bronze with 176.414.
After pulling among the highest scores of the night in the floor
and vault events, Canada finished with a total score of 170.804,
less than four points behind China.
Canada had never even qualified for a team final before. Tuesday’s
fifth-place result was a remarkable achievement for a group of young
women who looked far more composed and confident than in their first
appearance at the Games two days ago.
“Our goal was to just finish top eight. But coming to the
Olympics and finishing fifth, we weren’t expecting that. It’s
unreal right now,” an ecstatic Victoria Moors of Cambridge,
Ont., said following the final before 20,000 spectators at the North
Greenwich Arena, a loud crowd that included Prince Harry.
When the final scores appeared on the big screen, the team members
— Moors, Elisabeth Black of Halifax, Dominique Pegg of Sarnia,
Ont., Kristina Vaculik of Whitby, Ont., and Brittany Rogers Coquitlam,
B.C. — leapt into each others arms and started crying.
They had toppled gymnastics giants like Italy and Great Britain,
and had shown they could bounce back from a nervous qualifying performance
They did that and more. Moors and the rest of her team were already
looking ahead to the next Olympics, 2016’s Games in Rio de
“We upset a lot of big countries. We definitely raised the
bar for Canada, we’re leaving a trail for the next people,
and for Rio,” she said. “We just decided to go out there
and go strong.”
On Thursday, Pegg will compete in the individual all-around event,
having placed 18th in Sunday’s qualifier. Teammates Rogers
and Black also qualified in the individual vault event, placing
seventh and eighth, respectively. They’ll compete in that
event on Sunday.
Rogers said Tuesday’s performance has given her confidence
as she transitions to the solo competition.
“Someone is going to win bronze on Thursday. Why can’t
it be me?” she said. “(Me and Ellie) are going to rock
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s gold-medal finish was a bittersweet
moment for American star Jordyn Wieber, a household name in the
U.S. Having failed to qualify Sunday for the individual all-around
final, it was the end of her Olympic journey.
Speaking to the media afterwards, the 17-year-old said the team
gold was “redemption” and that she had worked hard to
get back together mentally after Sunday’s disappointing finish.
“I knew I had to redeem myself a little bit from the disappointment
of the other day,” Wieber said. “But, in the end, this
was my ultimate goal — to win with this team.”
With files from the Kitchener-Waterloo Record