What a day in London! Five subdivisions of the best gymnasts in the world preparing for the biggest competition of their lives. There were so many story lines down on the floor today it's tough to wrap my head around it, but I'll do my best. Here are my top stories from women's 2012 Olympic podium training.
Thinking back on this morning's first session it seems like that was days ago! However, I can not forget the thrill of seeing a female gymnast stand up an incredibly difficult, and slightly terrifying, handspring double front vault. I've seen Pena attempt this vault numerous times and every time I cringe a bit. I've only seen her stand it up once before today - podium training at World Championships last year - and even that one was a bit questionable. I was too far to see if her feet really touched the mat first.
2010 World Floor Champion Lauren Mitchell started off the day with Team Australia on her best event and struggled with her tumbling passes, sitting down whip to double arabian and putting her hands down on a couple piked full ins. Her ankles were heavily wrapped leading me to believe she must be coming back from injury. Mitchell was quick to brush it off though, "I've always got them wrapped like that!", she said with a laugh. Mitchell ended her day looking good on beam, but still not great.
The award for most original, artistic routines goes to the Italians for their unique work on beam and floor. Their beam routines are captivating, really making the effort to interlace pure artistry in-between difficult skills. Elisabetta Preziosa had the highlight beam routine for me. Add to that the power of veteran Vanessa Ferrari and newcomer Erika Fasana, and the Italians are looking good for a spot in event finals.
Even though she has yet to win a coveted Olympic medal on this event, she is the best bar worker in the world. She flies through her combinations so quickly that I can't even type them out at the speed she swings. She impressed with an upgraded dismount in her second routine - an incredibly clean tucked double double that she nearly stuck.
Last month it was a concussion, this week a broken toe. It was worrisome to see the reigning World vault champion sit off to the sidelines with her foot in an ice bucket yesterday as her teammates practiced in the training hall. But, just as she did at the Olympic Trials, Maroney showed up to the London arena looking unfazed and ready to bring the Olympic gold medal for vault home to the USA.
2011 World silver medalist Viktoria Komova of Russia is back in top form just in time for the Olympic Games. Not only has she upgraded on nearly every event, but her overall demeanor out there is lightyears different from what we saw in Tokyo. Today's Komova was confident, and had a spring in her step. Her gymnastics is both enchanting and difficult. She struggled on floor to begin her day, and sat down a Patterson dismount off beam, but the highlight from her today was that she stood up two very well executed Amanar vaults. As if we didn't all know it before, Komova will absolutely contend for the all around title in London.
Catalina Ponor was downright impressive today! The triple gold medalist from Athens is back and looks as if she never left. She works beam like no one else with lightening quick connections, killer confidence, and a piked full in dismount that looks entirely too easy.
Team USA will begin on vault in the prelims, and of course practiced in that order today. Not only did the reigning World Champs hit their vaults, they put on a show. All eyes were on the Americans like I have never seen it before. It was Amanar after Amanar. The lineup for prelims looks to be Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, then World Champ McKayla Maroney - all with well executed yurchenko 2.5's. On top of that, Kyla Ross performed the best yurchenko double I saw all day, sticking it cold.
For more insights on routines and other tidbits from inside the arena, go to our Live Updates page.
Watch video interviews with Team USA after podium training:
Jordyn Wieber - Gabby Douglas - McKayla Maroney - Aly Raisman - Kyla Ross - Martha Karolyi - John Geddert