RIO DE JANEIRO – Madison Kocian says Nastia Liukin is like a big sister to her.
Well, she matched her big sis, a fellow Texan and WOGA club product, with an Olympic silver medal on uneven bars Sunday at the Rio 2016 Games. Liukin took the silver at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games for the last U.S. medal in the event.
And this medal is all Kocian’s. She doesn’t have to share it with any of her competitors.
Last year in Glasgow, Scotland, Kocian was part of an unprecedented four-way tie for the gold medal at the 2015 world championships.
This time, she was second behind Aliya Mustafina of Russia, the defending champion, who scored 15.900 to Kocian’s 15.833.
Kocian had qualified first in the event with a 15.866 in the preliminaries.
Known as an “uneven bars specialist,” she didn’t disappoint. She helped Team USA soar to the Olympic gold medal in the team event, competing only on that in the team final, and also swung some hardware for herself.
Kocian had the advantage of going after Mustafina, with the Russian third and the American fourth.
She was hoping to become the first U.S. gold medalist in uneven bars since Julianne McNamara tied Ma Yanhong of China in 1984.
However, Mustafina, who lost to Kocian’s teammates, Simone Biles and Aly Raisman in the all-around, finishing with the bronze, had more difficulty in her routine to edge Kocian.
Mustafina had difficulty of 6.800 compared to 6.700 for Kocian, although Kocian’s execution score was better: 9.133 to 9.100.
Team USA's Gabby Douglas wasn't quite up to her usual standards on her routine, placing seventh with a score of 15.066. She had qualified third with a 15.766. She finished eighth in the event at the 2012 Games.
Douglas was attempting to become the first all-around Olympic champion (2012) to win an individual event in her next Olympic Games since Nadia Comaneci in 1980, but did not qualify for the final. She finished third in qualification, behind Biles and Raisman, and only the top two from each country advance.