Arabelle made the sign of the cross. She powdered her hands and approached the balance beam.
The television announcer said, “Arabelle Christiano can’t really expect to medal here. She made fifth at the Worlds which was a fantastic showing. But this is her first Olympics. It’s only her second international event.”
“That’s right Parker,” said his co-host, Gina. “Arabelle just squeaked past the age limit.”
“She flubbed her landing in practice. She’s had trouble with that dismount all year.”
“Yes, and she’s nervous. But she’s having a great time. There’s less pressure when no one expects you to win.”
“When I spoke with her earlier, she said was happy just to be here. She even felt a little guilty at having this chance. You know she was the alternate. She’s only competing here because Tanya Cheatem was disqualified.”
“That’s right. Tanya failed two doping tests. We’ll have more on that story later.”
“Arabelle has so much potential. She’s really a sweet kid. She could be a real contender in London in 2012. But right now she’s just absorbing it all; gaining experience.”
Arabelle mounted the balance beam and executed a flawless routine.
Gina interrupted Arabelle’s nervous pacing in the judging area. “Arabelle, How do you feel about your performance just now?”
“Well… I’m obviously pleased. I botched my landing in practice. I mean, I’m so thrilled just to be here. If I do well, it’s not my skill, but God’s will.”
The score board lit up. “First place! Congratulations Arabelle! You will definitely medal here today young lady.”
“Thank you.” Arabelle beamed. She made the sign of the cross and glanced skyward, as if in communion with her God.
“Next up, Radinka Sedrakyan,” said Parker. ”She has said she’ll retire after winning the gold medal here. -- That’s right, she intends to take home the gold.”
“However, she missed much of the year due to recurring groin injuries,” said Gina, back in the media booth.
“That’s right Gina. And I’d say she’s overconfident. These young kids are just amazing. Radinka will have to really nail it to beat Arabelle.”
“Yes, she really needs to be perfect here. -- And beam is Radinka’s weakest event.”
Radinka approached the mats, bowed, and waved her hands high. She headed for the balance beam where she bowed once again. She stood tall, puffed out like a peacock, and did her complex mount with confidence.
“She’s doing well,” said Parker. “She’s great technically and artistically.”
“If she has a clean routine here, she could surpass Arabelle and get that gold medal.”
“…All that’s left is her dismount,” whispered Gina.
“And it’s a tricky one. This move was named after her folks. Radinka is the only one to land the Sadrakyan successfully in international competition.”
“Oh! And she steps -- two steps. That’s going to cost her.”
“Gina, I think the pressure got to her. Arabelle was the only one to really stick her landing on this event.”
Down by the score boards, Parker stood with the former World Champion and Olympian. “I’m here with Radinka Sadrakyan. Radinka, how does it feel, flubbing your landing on the move you created -- and with this being your last Olympics?”
Radinka scowled at the question. “I will still get the gold medals in vault and also all around. I am the champion.”
“Well, you’ve had quite a career…”
Gina was standing by Arabelle. “Arabelle Christiano will medal here folks. We’re just waiting to see which one.”
Arabelle’s head was bowed. In her hand she clutched a gold chain with a cross.
The cameraman aimed at her face, waiting for her reaction to Radinka’s scores and the updated medal positions.
As soon as Radinka’s low scores lit up the boards Gina pounced. “You did it! You’ve won the gold medal! Let me be the first to congratulate you. How does it feel Arabelle?”
Arabelle’s hands flew to her mouth, her eyes widened in disbelief. “Well… I guess I’m in shock. It doesn’t seem real. It’s all happening so fast. I haven’t had time to digest it really, you know? Of course I’m thrilled. It’s a dream come true. God has really blessed me today.”
The cameraman moved in even closer to catch Arabelle wiping the tears from her eyes. The gold medalist said, “Hi Gramma! Hi Jules! Thank you Mom and Dad!” The chain in her hand sparkled in the lights as she waved into the camera. “I love you all!”
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