TODAY's Natalie Morales chats with the parents of U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman about their dramatic and animated reactions during Sunday's competition.
Contorting in the stands with their daughter's every flip on the uneven bars, the parents of U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman became a viral sensation when NBC cameras caught them urging her to “stick it’’ in her final routine on Sunday.
Rick and Lynn Raisman could only laugh at their own expressive body language as they watched the video during an interview with Natalie Morales on TODAY Tuesday. The Raismans had reason to be excited in their now-famous clip, as Aly stunned the field in the qualifying round on Sunday to advance to the individual all-around finals. In the process, she bumped out teammate (and gold medal favorite) Jordyn Wieber.
Raisman’s performance was a big story on its own, but her mom and dad joined her in the headlines by showing the type of emotion familiar to any parents dealing with the anxiety of watching their child compete. On Monday morning, Aly tweeted, “I love my parents,’’ and attached a clip of the video.
“It was such a relief when she finished the event,’’ Rick told Morales. “There’s just so much pressure and it’s just so magnified. I’m embarrassed watching (the video) now. You don’t even realize it. You’re just so locked in, it’s just unreal.’’
“I knew he was moving,’’ Lynn said of her husband. “I had no idea I was moving that much.’’
Rick stood up and pumped his fist in celebration while Lynn cried tears of joy once they realized their daughter was now one step away from her dream of an individual Olympic medal. They knew Aly had reached the finals before she did.
“She doesn’t always watch her scores,’’ her mother said. “I said, ‘Did you know how close you were going into the last event?' She said, ‘No I didn’t look at the scores.’ Her coach is usually happy at the end, but he was really, really happy, and she said, ‘I had no idea.’’’
Aly’s ecstasy was Wieber’s agony, as the reigning all-around world champion is now out of the running for an individual all-around gold medal. Wieber finished fourth overall in Sunday’s qualifier, but international rules state that only two competitors from the same country can advance. Since Raisman and teammate Gabby Douglas finished ahead of Wieber, she was eliminated from a finals berth.
“(Aly) felt terrible,’’ Lynn Raisman said. “It’s always terrible that there’s a two per-country rule. When you’re from a country like the U.S. where’s there’s five girls who really could do it if they were all given a chance to compete in the all-around, it could be any number of them. It’s really hard.’’
Wieber will still compete in Tuesday’s team finals, with the United States being the favorite to win its first gymnastics gold medal as a team since 1996.
“If they just go in and do what they’re capable of doing, no question they’ll do it,’’ Lynn said. “They’re a good group, they’re so close, they’re so focused and so determined that I’m really hopeful.”
“Today is the most important day for the team,’’ Rick said. “That’s what they’re here for first. We just wish them all the best and hopefully they can do their thing.’’