A hot topic that has surfaced from the London 2012 Olympics is the consistency that USA team member Gabby Douglas has shown on the balance beam. Her performances have led her to become a beam finalist competing on Tuesday against beam queens such as Catalina Ponor the 2004 Olympic Champion, Aly Rasiman who won the beam title at Olympic Trials and Sui Lu of China who is the reigning World Champion on the event. The remaining question is, can Douglas stay consistent in the finals and surpass one of these amazing competitors for a spot on the podium?
In May of 2012 Douglas competed in the U.S. Secret Classic on every event but the vault. She started the competition on her best event, the uneven bars and the made her way to the beam for the second rotation. After a strong bar performance, she ran into trouble on the beam, having to reach down and grab the appartus after her flight series. Douglas seemed to execute the skill well but then loose confidence on the landing. This wasn't the only problem, also having a few balance checks on other skills during her routine. She awarded a low score of 14.4.
Advancing to the Visa Championships a few weeks later, Douglas had two nights of competition, two beam routines to earn her place at Olympic Trials. She hit all four routines on night one for the first time since the American Cup in March. Though she managed to stay on the beam, it still continued to be a struggle for Douglas. She had a big balance check on her standing full as well as a step back on her back double pike dismount. Her performance had improved with a score of 14.8 and even helped her tie for first place with all-around World Champion Jordyn Wieber after night one. Douglas started off night two on the balance beam. She showed her inconsistency once again by grabbing the beam on her flight series and then completly falling off the beam. Mounting the beam after her fall, Douglas continued with a solid set. The only mistake she followed with was a step back on her dismount. With the fall off of being counting for a one point deduction, she was only awarded a 14.1, opening the gates for Jordyn Wieber to defend her title.
Battling for a spot on the USA Olympic Team, Douglas wanted to show Martha Karoyli that she could be used as an all-around gymnast. Her beam routine on night one consisted of balance checks and wobbles, but we saw moments of greatness on her standing full and stuck dismount. She was awarded a 14.9. Through this competitions she had yet to break the 15.0 mark. During this time, Gabby started showing more confidence and the question of being able to use Douglas in the team finals arised. She still had a long way to go, but her future on this event was looking promising. With hope instilled inside Douglas' fans, she yet again showed inconsistency on the event. On night two of the trials she wobbled or had a balance check on nearly every one of her skills. Her score was a 14.850, however the rest of her routines during the night were solid, allowing her to earn the one automatic bid to London over Wieber.
After these competitions the majority of gymnastics fans were worried about her performance in London. They were almost sure that she wouldn't compete on the event in team finals, yet she did. Second in the line up during qualifications, Doulgas nailed her beam routine for a score of 15.266, the highest score for team USA. Douglas not only topped Wieber, but beam anchor Aly Raisman. Fans were even more shocked when Douglas qualified for the beam finals in second tying Viktoria Komova of Russia.
Douglas continued with another solid performance during the team finals replacing Wieber. When discussion arose about who would be the three to compete on the event in team finals, multiple different combinations were being suggested. The least likely one, Kyla Ross, Douglas and Raisman was the one that was used to bring them to gold. Wieber sat on the sidelines and cheered her teammates on, which was a place gymnastics fans were suprised to see her during the event.
Gabby again shocked the gymnastics community when she earned the highest score (15.5) given so far on the balance beam during the all-around final. There is no doubt that she had the performance of a lifetime, but she also showed that she can be consistent on the event. It is amazing how far Gabby Douglas has come during her time in London. She has proven all predictions wrong when it comes to her beam performances.
The only question that remains, is can Douglas give a fourth solid beam routine with the possibilty of medaling or will she resort back to pre-London Gabby, showing inconsistency and little confidence?
Find out tomorrow during the beam finals at 9:47 a.m. ET.