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Jewish Gymnast Makes Olympic Finals Performing 'Hava Nagila'

American Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman reached the Olympics women's artistic gymnastics finals, beating world champion Jordyn Wieber.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 7/31/2012, 1:23 PM

Alexandra Raisman
Alexandra Raisman
Reuters

American Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman, known by her nickname Aly, reached the Olympics women's artistic gymnastics finals, beating teammate and world champion Jordyn Wieber.

She not only stunned spectators by grabbing one of the two spots in the all-around individual finals for the U.S., but she did it while performing a floor exercise routine to the tune of “Hava Nagila.”

Raisman, 18, of Needham, Massachusetts, finished second overall in the qualifying round with a total of 60.391, including a 15.325 on the floor exercise that was the best among all the competitors at the London Games.

“I was really, really emotional, way more than I thought I would be,” said Raisman after being named to the Olympic squad. “I thought I would maybe tear up a little bit but I didn’t think I’d hyperventilate like that. I couldn’t even breathe. It was such a special moment and I’m so honored and so excited.”

Raisman’s parents have been getting a great deal of media attention, as they were caught on camera cheering on their daughter as their faces contorted in fear, anticipation and overwhelming excitement.

The young Olympian gymnast is the recipient of the Pearl D. Mazor Outstanding Female Jewish High School Scholar- Athlete of the Year Award, presented by the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in New York, and has been under the guidance of former Israel Olympic team trainers, Mihai and Sylvia Brestyan.

Raisman also finished fourth in the vault, fifth on the balance beam and 23rd on the uneven bars in the qualifying, which ended Sunday.

She will compete in the all-around finals starting Tuesday along with fellow American Gabby Douglas.