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Hava Nagila Goes For The Gold

Aly Raisman, 2012

If I were so inclined, I’d title this entry “Oy-lympics,” but I’m afraid I would lose blog execution points for terrible puns, so I digress. Yesterday at the Women’s Floor Event Final in London, Aly Raisman of Team USA struck gold. Her impressive score of 15.600 was made sweeter by the choice of music for her routine: “Hava Nagila.” The NBC commentator mentioned the homage to her Jewish heritage as she walked triumphantly off the floor, as did Bob Costas in an interview with the Olympic champion later that night. Though, frankly, her hyper and adorable parents, who were spotlighted fidgeting throughout the Games, were quite the homage themselves.

Raisman is certainly not the first Jewish gymnast to represent the US and win gold. Kerri Strug famously secured the team gold in 1996 with her wobbly, but completed vault on an injured ankle. Coincidentally, it was Raisman on floor who was the last competitor for Team USA during the Team Finals. This time around, however, it was less dramatic as the gold was a given due to major falls by the Russians on beam and floor.

I love watching gymnastics regardless of the heritage of the athletes of course, but the fact that I can hear the US national anthem play because of Raisman’s “Hava Nagila” performance adds a special sense of pride to the victory. On a personal athletic note for Raisman, with her gold in Team and Floor, she becomes the third US gymnast, joining Shannon Miller (gold in Team and Balance Beam, 1996) and fellow teammate Gabby Douglas (Team and All-Around, 2012), to bring home two gold medals in a single Games; she also is the first ever American woman to win gold on Floor. Mazel Tov!


In gymnastics news from other countries of Jewdyssee note, Team Deutschland finished in a disappointing 7th in the Men’s Team Finals, but was redeemed by Marcel Nguyen’s brilliant silver medal All-Around and Parallel Bars performances and Fabian Hambuechen’s silver medal Horizontal Bar routine, adding to the bronze he got in Beijing. Team Israel was represented once again by Alexander Shatilov, who placed 6th in Men’s Floor and 12th in All-Around.