Hava Nagila gymnast Aly Raisman helps team USA win gold at London 2012

By Jennifer Lipman, July 31, 2012
Aly Raisman begins her routine

Aly Raisman begins her routine

American Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman has helped propel her team to a gold medal at London 2012.

The 18-year-old from Massachusetts, who performed her floor routine to the tune Hava Nagila, appeared last in the US line up in the team competition.

As she left the floor, bringing her team its first win outside of US soil, she appeared to be holding back tears of joy.

"It's an amazing feeling to win gold," she told the JC. "The best feeling in the world, and it shows that all the hard work has paid off.

"It's a huge honour to be the first Jewish gold medallist of the 2012 Games.

"I'm so excited and it definitely gives me a boost of confidence. It's crazy and I cannot believe it."

Team captain Raisman saved the best until last, with a stunning display in the floor exercise, with the crowd clapping to her favourite song, Hava Nagila. This followed a superb display on the beam.

"I was very happy with my performances," she commented. "I wanted Team USA to finish on a high and it was a huge honour to be the final athlete. I went up to do the best I could."

Jordan Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross completed the American squad who finished with a combined score of 183.596, well ahead of runners-up Russia (178.530).

Raisman said: "I hope people will remember just how much fun we had, always smiling and we are all the best of friends."

Aly, who scored 15.3 for her routine at the North Greewich Arena, is one of the most high-profile Jewish athletes competing at London 2012. Her team scored 183.596, five points more than those in second place.

The team finished five marks ahead of Russia, with Romania in third place.

She will now go for gold on Thursday in the individual all-round artistic gymnastic final.

Interview by Danny Caro

Last updated: 9:52am, August 1 2012