Gymnastics News Network
By Breanna Whitman
Surprises abound in the balance beam finals today in Rio, in which U.S. favorite Simone Biles walked away with Bronze, while Netherlands competitor Sanne Wevers earned Gold and U.S. competitor Laurie Hernandez received Silver.
Always exciting, balance beam seems to trip up even the best of competitors. A largely mental event, balance beam requires not only a physical ability to perform the most daring skills on a 4” plank, but also the mental strength to stay on the beam. GNN has written before about the importance of consistency and mental toughness – both factors that play into the balance beam. Even the slightest imperfection can result in a wobble or fall that loses the medal.
Today’s gymnasts gave it their all, but some had better days than others. Here’s our breakdown:
Sanne Wevers, champion of the turn
Here at GNN, we first noticed Wever’s beam routine during the qualifying round of the Olympics last Sunday – and loved it! (Which was why we were bummed when primetime airings chose not to cover it.) Wevers manages to weave together a routine filled with a unique complexity unlike any of the other gymnasts at the Olympics this Games.
While most gymnasts fill their difficulty primarily with difficult, high flying acro (tumbling) combinations and connections, Wevers prefers to build her difficulty (D-Score) from dance combinations, where she stuns with beautiful turns, including the Okena: a triple turn, where most gymnasts opt for only a double.
To those looking for high-flying acrobatic feats on the balance beam, Sanne Wevers routine might disappoint. But for those who appreciate the artistry, Wevers routine is sure to thrill!
Talk about thrill and disappointment! That a solid beam routine from Laurie Hernandez (filled with the sort of high-flying tumbling skills gymnastics fans have become accustomed to seeing on beam) didn’t place higher might have puzzled some, but execution errors and a contested start value put Hernandez squarely in 2nd place during beam finals.
As the bright-eyed “human emoji” fans fell in love with at the P&G Championships and the Olympic Trials, Hernandez stayed true to her personality, accepting her award with infectious excitement and a bright smile! Who can’t love this girl?!
The moment Simone Biles put her hands on the balance beam
The internet rang out with collective heartbreak today as Simone Biles put her hand down on the beam Monday while attempting to save her punch front landing. Let’s be clear: Simone Biles did not flop. She is still the best gymnast in the world. Period.
Still, bronze on balance beam isn’t where Biles hoped she’d end up, and it wasn’t where her fans hoped she’d end up either. And we’re bummed for her!
It was obvious from Biles’ reactions for the day that she wanted to be pleased, but as a reported perfectionist, it had to have been hard for her to see herself perform at less than her best, making one mistake in a strong routine. Her otherwise clean routine still managed to pull out 3rd place – a true testament to her ability and the strength of the rest of her routine. Here’s hoping she brings it for Floor tomorrow, where she reigns as current World Champ!
Mental Toughness & Consistency
Have we mentioned recently how important mental strength and consistency are in gymnastics? Especially on the balance beam? (Yeah. We thought so.)
Beam finals proved that the beam really does bite, and if you aren’t 100% focused, you won’t survive without a fall – or at least a few wobbles. From the best of the best in the world today, only a handful of gymnasts stayed on the beam and even fewer performed without major wobbles, forcing the question: was the pressure too great? Or was it really just an “off” day?
The conclusion of the both Men’s & Women’s Event Finals airs live on NBCOlympics.com at 1:00 PM EST Tuesday, August 16 including Women’s Floor Exercise where Simone Biles and Aly Raisman will take the floor to compete for Team USA!
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