Hong Un Jong (PRK). After being forced to miss the 2012 Olympic Games due to the age scandal that involved her sister Hong returned to the Olympics 8 years later to try and recover her Vault title. But the scenario was very clear, the Amanar and Cheng would not be enough for gold although most likely would be enough for either silver or bronze. But Hong had the vault that could not only give her the gold medal but the glory of having one of the most difficult vaults named after her: the Triple Twisting Yurchenko. But if she fell she would not get a medal so competing the Triple Twisting Yurchenko was going for all or nothing. And sadly it went the wrong way for her, still she will go down in history as the first woman ever to attempt it.
Jessica López (VEN). The 30-year old had the best competition of her career and finished in 7th place in the all-around. Plus she got more than she had ever dreamed of by qualifying into the bars final where she was the first gymnast up and delivered a solid routine for a 6th place finish.
Giulia Steingruber (SUI). The flag bearer for Switzerland at the Opening Cermony saw her Olympic dream fulfilled when she won bronze in the Vault final making her the first Swiss ever to win an Olympic medal in gymnastics. Her 10th place finish in the all-around was also historic and even though she had two falls in the Floor Exercise final she had already achieved what she had gone to Rio for: a bronze medal.
Catalina Ponor (ROU). The flag bearer for Romania at the opening ceremony had the huge responsibility of preventing Romania from walking out empty handed from the Olympics. In the qualification round she earned a score high enough to get her into the final. A medal was within reach since Simone Biles had a big mistake on beam during the final and if Catalina equaled her qualifying score she would have a bronze medal. But it was not meant to be as the routine went very wrong for Catalina who even without a fall scored only a 14.000 to place 7th.
Oksana Chusovitina (UZB). The 7-time Olympian basically opened the competition since she was among the very first participants to go on vault during the first subdivision. After waiting the whole day Oksana learned she had advanced to the vault finals where she competed a Produnova vault that did not go as planned as she fell and placed 7th in the final. While Oksana was hoping for a medal at this Olympics, this is fall is nothing in her illustrious career. Not only, at the age of 41, was she attempting the most difficult vault in the code but she has hinted that Rio will not be the end of her career as she has expressed plans to compete at next year’s World Championships in Canada.
Elsabeth Black (CAN) was heavily disappointed when the Canadian Team lost a berth in the Team Final by just a fraction. However she made history in the all-around by giving Canada its best placement with a 5th place finish.
Elisabeth Seitz (GER) was the last competitor in the uneven bars final and with the unexpected mistake of Gabrielle Douglas and the fall of Daria Spridinova she stood a high chance for bronze. Sadly for her a 0.033 difference kept her in fourth place behind her teammate Sophie Scheder.
Erika Fasana (ITA) managed to qualify to the Floor Final seeking the opportunity that escaped her when at the 2015 World Championships she was forced to withdraw from the Floor Final due to injury. She performed solidly to place 6th.
Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) went to Rio for the bronze medal that slipped from her hands when a tie-breaker did not favor her at the Floor Final in London 2012. But once again she finished fourth after taking a couple steps in her last pass. Will this be the last routine in Vanessa Ferrari’s career?
Rio-born Jade Barbosa (BRA) competed well through the qualification and team final event however during the all-around final a bad landing on the Floor Exercise forced her to withdraw with injury. Later it was reported not to be a serious injury however it surely was disappointing for her to withdraw while competing at home Olympics.
For Daniele Hypólito (BRA) the Rio Olympics were surely a party. The 31 year old who had already attended four Olympics prior to Rio surely enjoyed this Olympics the most. Mainly for two reasons the joy of competing at home and seeing her brother Diego Hypólito become an Olympic medalist (Silver, Floor Exercise).
Rebecca Downie (GBR) missed the uneven bars final after hitting the high bar during a release move. This was surely disappointing, however she was an example of toughness by finishing the routine without any other major mistake. Her qualifying score of 15.233 would have been enough to get her into any final other than bars. This shows how tight is the competition when it comes to the uneven bars final. Still she has had a brilliant career that includes two European Titles on Uneven Bars.
Maria Paseka (RUS) had two very big tests during the Olympics and she passed them brilliantly both times. The first one was during the team final when a major mistake by China opened the door for silver yet it all relied on her. If she vaulted well the team would get silver if she didn’t they would have to settle for bronze and she delivered such a beautiful vault that Russia won by a large margin ahead of China. The second test was for her own benefit, she was the 7th gymnast out of 8 competing in the vault final and after witnessing Hong Un Jong falling on her vault and Karamakar and Chusovitina not being able to place first despite having a Produnova vault, Maria knew a medal was perfectly within reach and she delivered two good vaults to secure it.
Aliya Mustafina (RUS) who has been plagued with injuries and who had a very bad opening beam routine in the qualification round, went on to prove why she is the Queen of Russian gymnastics. In the team final she delivered her best performances to secure her team’s placement and individually she kept her cool in the all-around to avoid a fall on beam and secure a bronze. More success came to her when she was able to defend her uneven bars title from four years ago.
Gabrielle Douglas (USA) did not manage to advance to the all-around final as her teammate Alexandra Raisman qualified ahead of her and also did not manage to medal on uneven bars after making a relatively big mistake on bars. Yet the sole fact of being the first Olympic all-around champion to attend a second Olympics since Nadia Comaneci is a huge achievement by itself.
Alexandra Raisman (USA), like Vanessa Ferrari, went to Rio to improve her fourth place finish from London 2012. For Alexandra the test came twice as she had to outscore teammate Gabrielle Douglas for the spot in the all-around final and she did. Once in the all-around final she had to get through her uneven bars routine to secure a medal and she did. Her reward was much better than improving her fourth place finish as she won silver. As for Floor she knew she could not beat Simone Biles so her goal was to win silver and she easily did it.
Will we see any of these athletes in Tokyo 2020?