Artistic gymnast Valeria Maksyuta stumbled twice in the uneven bar exercise and three times in the vault, exiting after the first preliminary round, in which she finished dead last. It was one of the worst performances of an Israeli gymnast since Limor Fridman at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
"It was awful," Maksyuta said after the last of her four exercises, during which almost everything went wrong.
Maksyuta suffered from the disadvantage of not having any teammates around to encourage her. She was in a group with other individual participants without national teams entered in the event, and had to perform several dangerous moves.
She started off with a weak jump on the vault which ended with an unelegant fall and a score of 12.800. The second jump was much better in difficulty and execution. Maksyuta received 13.800 and looked like she was regaining her confidence, but in her routine on the uneven bars she missed the leap from lower to higher bar, landed on the mat face first and looked in shock.
Although the exercise was in the corner of the arena, it seemed like every spectator let out a painful "ooooh" inside when seeing it. While Maksyuta tried to put on a brave face, her coach, Aaron Litvin averted his eyes.
She recovered enough to finish the routine, but when landing fell (more traditionally ) on her backside. The crowd in North Greenwich was more sympathetic toward her than the judges, who gave her a score of 9.433.
Litvin prepared another mat for Maksyuta ahead of the balance beam. She started that exercise slowly and, unsurprisingly, lost her balance and fell. She continued the routine with desperate attempts to stay on the narrow beam. Twice she succeeded. In another instance she was forced to jump onto the mat. The exercise ended with a metaphorical landing on her backside.
This time her coach tried to help restore her morale. The arena filled up as Maksyuta began her floor exercise. She finished on her knees - but this time, in front of a full crowd, it was an intentional conclusion to a fall-free routine. After finishing, her coach gave her a hug and she smiled bravely at the cameras.
Maksyuta said afterward she fell hard on her shin in the vault exercise and then hit the same place on the beam. She said she wanted to persist, but things didn't work as they should. "I'm very sorry about the competition, but I worked very hard and gave my all," she said.
"It just didn't work out. I usually feel better when I compete in the afternoon, but it's the Olympics ... Everything is for this." She added, "It happens, but I didn't think that so much wouldn't work out. Luck is important, and it's a great disappointment. I'm in shock."
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