Aly Raisman aiming for gold in floor exercise

Jewish American gymnast will compete in final women's gymnastics event of the Olympics, facing stiff competition from teammate Simone Biles.

Shai Landesman ,

Aly Raisman
Aly Raisman
Reuters

After winning a gold medal with Team USA in the team all-around event, and winning silver in the individual all-around, Aly Raisman faces the tall task today (Tuesday) of repeating her feat from the 2012 London Olympics: winning gold in the floor exercise.

Floor is by far Raisman's best apparatus. It is also the most popular among spectators. The competitors choose their own music and are expected to put together a routine that not only shows off their balance and tumbling skills, but their individual personality as well. In London four years ago Raisman dazzled crowds with her performance set to the tune of "Hava Nagilah", a nod to her Jewish heritage.

This time around however, Raisman faces a much bigger obstacle standing between her and gold: fellow American Simone Biles.

Biles came into these Olympics having absolutely dominated the sport for three full years, and was hoping to win at least five gold medals in the various gymnastics events. She won her first three - as part of Team USA, in the individual all-around, and in the vault apparatus - without any particular issues, and looked to be well on her way to accomplishing her goal of five golds.

All that came to a screeching halt last night (Monday) as Biles stumbled badly on the balance beam - she had to put her hands on the beam to keep from falling off, which counts the same as an outright fall - ending her hopes for gold in the event. She recovered remarkably and used her superior skill to still win bronze based on the rest of her routine, but will certainly be disappointed, having qualified for the final from first place.

Biles and Raisman have a very close relationship, as was readily apparent from their support for each other as they competed in the individual all-around.

Biles and the rest of the US gymnastics team call Raisman "grandma", apparently due to her "advanced" age in gymnastics terms (she's 22), and her fondness for naps.

A gold and silver finish for Raisman and Biles, in whatever order, will be a boost for team USA, which is ever so slightly reeling after two setbacks in the previous apparatus competitions. Madison Kocian lost out on gold in the uneven bars to Russia's Aliya Mustafina, winning the silver, before both Biles and teammate Laurie Hernandez (silver) missed out on gold on the beam to Holland's Sanne Wevers.



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