Gabby Douglas proved she was mortal on Monday, finishing eighth out of eight on the uneven bars in the apparatus finals.
"I wanted to finish as strong as I could," said Douglas, the all-around champion. "I wasn't my best and the other girls were amazing."
With a score of 14.900, the 16-year-old finished behind gold medalist Aliya Mustafina of Russia (16.133), silver medalist He Kexin of China (15.933), and bronze medalist Beth Tweddle of Great Britain (15.916).
Douglas didn't make a glaring mistake. Essentially, she went over in the wrong direction on one of her handstands and improvised in order to cover it up. It's the nature of event finals that gymnasts often take more chances and receive a wider range of scores than in team or qualifying events. A risk that might add an extra tenth or two isn't worth the gamble when it might affect a cumulative score, but in event finals, when only one routine determines the medalists, gymnasts are more willing to include risky elements. Some hit; others miss. This was a rare day when it seemed everyone hit. There were no falls on the apparatus among any of the eight competitors and the lowest execution score of the meet was a high 8.566.
"I did an inside full and I should have pulled harder," Douglas said. "I tried to cover up with a pirouette and just keep going as best I could."