RIO DE JANEIRO – Simone BILES’s (USA) golden performance in the women’s all-around final at the Rio Olympic Arena on Thursday was so brilliant that she could have fallen twice and still tumbled off with the title.
Apart from a sizeable hop on her vault landing in the first rotation, the charismatic BILES executed her programme with full control and flair to win by 2.100 points. She recorded the highest score of the field on three of the four apparatus along the way.
BILES’s competitive coolness dissolved in tears of relief and joy when she completed her crowd-pleasing, samba-infused floor exercise in the last rotation.
“I was thinking, ‘I’ve finally done it,’ and when that hits you, you can’t stop the emotions,” said BILES, the three-time world all-around champion and leader of Sunday’s qualifications. “I was very proud. I feel like I did my job tonight.”
Alexandra RAISMAN (USA) avenged her fourth-place finish at the London 2012 Games, where she yielded bronze to Aliya MUSTAFINA (RUS), to win silver.
Trailing MUSTAFINA after three rotations, RAISMAN bumped the Russian out of second place with a robust, risky floor exercise routine for a result which matched her expectations and hopes.
“No one goes into this thinking they can beat Simone,” RAISMAN said. “I’m sure most people don’t go into it (the men’s 100m)thinking they can beat Usain BOLT (JAM) either, so it’s kind of the same thing. We (BILES and RAISMAN) are like sisters. I told her before today, ‘I want you to win and I want second’.”
MUSTAFINA led after two apparatus but lost momentum with a tentative balance beam routine followed by a lovely but acrobatically conservative floor exercise routine. She ceded silver to RAISMAN but said she was pleased to repeat her 2012 bronze.
“I’m very happy that, after four years, my result didn’t get worse,” MUSTAFINA said. “I’m glad that I performed well and I’m happy with this day.”