Don’t worry, the Michigan teen doesn’t need much space.
At about half the size of an average Tiger or Lions player, the still-mighty Wieber, of DeWitt near Lansing, is leading the team of U.S. women gymnasts at the World Championships in Tokyo. It’s the first such high-profile, international competition for four of the five teenaged teammates who were sometimes shaky in summer meets that helped choose this team.
But behind Wieber’s four-event-strong performance, the American gymnasts led the world in the team standings after preliminaries.
Team finals are Tuesday, 6 a.m. Detroit time and available to watch online at Universal Sports for a nominal fee:
Wieber’s young team — all worlds rookies except for one of them — is doing it without the de facto team “mom,” Alicia Sacramone, who ruptured her Achilles tendon last week and flew home to Boston for surgery today. The 23-year-old Sacramone, fans may remember, fell on both the beam and floor exercise events during the team finals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and came back last year hoping for a better Olympic experience in 2012.
She’s been on fire ever in competition since until this injury and was pretty hot in posing for ESPN’s “The Body Issue” that hit news stands and the Internet last week.
The barely work-safe link is here:
Sacramone’s absence is a big one for the team, one that fans worried the young team couldn’t overcome.
But the 16-year-old Wieber is channeling Sacramone’s strength and power, tweeting last week that the U.S. team was dedicating its prelim performance to “ASac” as Sacramone is nicknamed.
And it was a dedication Sacramone could flip for. The team hit 20-of-20 routines — think no-hitter, shutout, penalty-free, no-interception games, all done by a bunch of rookies.
Wieber posted the second best all-around score just behind a Russian, setting up a throwback Cold War storyline for that contest of individuals on Thursday. Wieber also qualified for three event finals while three of her four teammates also will compete for their own medals.
But first are the team finals Tuesday morning that if all goes like the prelims, will have the team on the top of the podium. Can we dare hope for more sports excitement this week?
With tonight’s agenda of the Tigers 4:19 p.m. EDT start at Texas and the Lions’ Monday Night Football contest against Chicago, let’s hope we wake up Tuesday to a gold medal around Wieber’s neck and a photo of her team on the podium.