The most poignant image of the London Games thus far: NBC's interviews with U.S. gymnasts Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas while team linchpin and gold medal favorite Jordyn Wieber sobbed in the background, her dream of individual all-around gold shattered. Despite ranking fourth in the all-around standings following the preliminary rounds, Wieber fell victim to the cruel, capricious rule limiting each nation to two candidates for all-around medals.
Gymnastics icon Bela Karolyi voiced his displeasure from the NBC studio. "To eliminate somebody because a teammate beat her," he fumed. "Still among the first four gymnasts in the world, and still you're eliminated?"
Wieber's ability to bounce back from crushing disappointment and lead the U.S. team in its Tuesday night attempt at gold will be one of the compelling storylines of the Olympic fortnight.
Meanwhile, Beijing's golden boy continued his fall from Olympic favor. Michael Phelps suffered his second heartbreaking loss of these Olympics when flavor-of-the-moment Ryan Lochte was unable to hold a lead over France in the 4x100 freestyle, leaving the U.S. with silver. Lochte will have plenty of chances for redemption, but one wonders whether Phelps will end up regretting his decision to return for these Games and possibly tarnish his amazing legacy, even if only slightly.
Ah, heartbreak. It's what make sports so compelling, never more so than at the Olympics.