Gold slips from Johnson's grasp at last possible minute
BEIJING -- It was another near miss for
Johnson, who was first up of the eight floor finalists, put together another terrific routine, filled with technical difficulty, with only one small step backwards on her second tumbling pass to prevent it from being flawless. Then she had to watch as the seven other competitors tried to beat her 15.50, an experience she called "the most nerve-racking of my life." One after another they failed to best her. Her roommate, Liukin, came up just short as the next-to-last gymnast despite performing a floor routine that both she and her father/coach
"Nastia stuck all her landings today," Valeri said, "so today was actually better than her floor exercise in the all-around. But we're not in a position to complain. They're human beings. It's not like timing in swimming."
So the last competitor standing between Johnson, who was the 2007 world champion in the floor, and her first gold medal was Romania's
Johnson has one more crack at a gold in the balance beam event on Tuesday, and she allowed that she'd go after it with all she had. As for Liukin, she'll be a favorite in uneven bars Monday night, and is also a finalist in beam. Don't be surprised if she medals in both, so confident is Liukin at these Olympics. Even her father is amazed. "She looks like she grew a couple of years older in this competition," he says. "It scares me. She's very calm, and I like to keep it that way."
The whole Liukin family is still reveling in Nastia's all-around win. Her mother,
Turns out Nastia had such a dream the night before she won the all-around. It was so visual it seemed absolutely real. She was wearing the pink leotard she actually wore in the all-around competition, and her Dad was in the same white shirt that he wore that night. He was hugging her, telling her that she had won. Then Nastia woke up. She looked around, saw Johnson peacefully sleeping in the bed beside her, and realized that it had just been a dream. "Darn it!" she thought. "It's not true!"
Except she made it come true a few hours later, winning the coveted all-around crown for real. That's when you know it's your Olympics: Dream it, wake up, then go out and make it come true.