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Douglas soars to 2nd gold, becoming 3rd straight American to win all-around title

08/02/2012 01:25 EDT | Updated 10/02/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - Make it a pair of Olympic gymnastics gold medals for Gabby Douglas, who added the all-around title Thursday to the one she won with the U.S. team two nights ago at the London Games.

Douglas became the third straight American to win gymnastics' biggest prize, taking the lead on the first event Thursday and never really letting anyone else get close. She finished with a score of 62.232, less than three-tenths ahead of Viktoria Komova of Russia. Aliya Mustafina won the bronze.

"I wanted to seize the moment," Douglas said. "It hasn't sunk in yet. Team finals hasn't sunk in yet. But it will."

Douglas brought the house down with her energetic floor routine, and U.S. teammates Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross jumped to their feet and cheered when she finished. Douglas flashed a smile and coach Liang Chow lifted her off the podium.

Komova's floor routine was impressive, as well, and she stood at the centre of the arena staring intently at the scoreboard, her folded hands at her mouth. When the final standings flashed, her head dropped and she hurried to the sidelines, tears falling.

Douglas finished with a score of 62.232, about three-tenths ahead of the Russian.

Mustafina and Raisman finished with identical scores of 59.566, but the Russian got the bronze on a tiebreak. The lowest scores for both gymnasts were dropped, and the remaining three were added up. That gave Mustafina a total of 45.933 and Raisman 45.366.

"It's really disappointing, but I'm really happy for Gabby," said Raisman, captain of the U.S. team. "But it's definitely really frustrating because we tied for third place. I was so close."

Dominique Pegg of Sarnia, Ont., finished 17th.

Just as she did in Tuesday night's team final, Douglas set the tone with the first event, vault. Once again doing the difficult Amanar — a roundoff onto the takeoff board, back handspring onto the table and 2.5 twisting somersaults before landing — Douglas took a small hop to the left and then another, putting her dangerously close to the out-of-bounds line.

She never looked down, but it was clear she knew how close she was, twisting her upper body to the left to absorb the momentum and keep her legs from moving. She stayed in place — and in bounds — and her 15.966 gave her a lead she never relinquished.

Komova made it close on uneven bars, where she looks more like a little hummingbird as she flies between the bars. Her routine is incredibly difficult, yet she does it with such lightness it's breathtaking. She took a small hop on her dismount, but camouflaged it by immediately thrusting her hands into the air and turning to salute the judges. When her score of 15.966 was announced, she nodded slightly as she zipped her Russian team warm-up all the way up to her chin.

Next came balance beam, where both Komova and Douglas have struggled. Komova's fall during the team competition at last year's worlds helped cost Russia any chance of catching the Americans, while Douglas might have won the U.S. title if not for a fall on the second day of competition.

With the stakes higher than they've ever been, however, both were clutch. Most of Komova's tricks were landed with complete confidence, and her sheep jump — where she thrusts her head and arms back while kicking her feet behind her — was absolutely exquisite, the soles of her feet brushing her ponytail.

But Douglas did her one better. She oozed confidence as she whipped off a series of back handsprings, landing as easily and confidently as she had when she was going through her routine on the arena floor. She did a front somersault with such power the thud of her landing echoed through the arena.

She took a small hop forward on her dismount, but it hardly mattered. Her score of 15.5 extended her lead over Komova to more than three-tenths of a point going into the final rotation, floor exercise.

While Douglas' skills on floor are impressive. The crowd was clapping almost from the opening notes of her techno music, and she got downright sassy on her dance moves, directing playful grins at the judges. Karolyi was so excited she was clapping her hands above her head up in the stands.

Her score of 15.033 meant Komova needed a 15.36 or better to win. She didn't come close, and Douglas had herself another gold.

"I'm still upset because I could have been gold and I didn't get it," said Komova, her silver medal buried in the pocket of her warm-up jacket.

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