Exclusive: Jordyn Wieber's parents talk about emotional roller coaster of their lives

LONDON – Rita and David Wieber just watched their daughter Jordyn and four of her best friends win the gold medal in women's gymnastics and stand tall on top of an Olympic podium to receive their golden necklaces. They watched as Jordyn washed away the most frustrating meet of her life – when she failed on Sunday to qualify for the individual all-around competition – with perhaps her most joyous.

Did they cry?

"I only cry out of sadness," Rita said on the subway train from North Greenwich Arena. "I don’t cry out of being happy. I cried a lot the last couple of days. Today I was just happy."

David laughed and admitted he didn't react like his wife. The moment, the turnaround, the thrill of victory – it all came on him at once. That was his girl singing the "Star Spangled Banner" down there.

"You know," David said, "it's something. You're watching that and, they are playing the national anthem, and it's your daughter. It's not crying, but your eyes are watering."

[ Photos: "Fab Five" gymnastics team wins gold ]

He shrugged.

"What are you going to do?"

How about enjoy every second of it.

About 48 hours prior, they watched their 17-year-old daughter's dream of winning individual all-around gold crumble. Wieber produced the fourth-best qualifying score but finished behind fellow Americans Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. Gymnastics rules state that only two athletes per country can advance.


Wieber was a wreck. With the isolation of the Olympic Village and a tight training schedule, her parents could only exchange a few brief phone calls and texts. On Sunday, they rode the same train home full of concern, doubt and a parent's pain at knowing their child was hurting.

Now it was late on Tuesday in London, and Wieber had rebounded brilliantly as part of a near-flawless team performance that saw the Americans run away with gold over the Russians. It was a blowout (183.596 to 178.530).

And their daughter, once in tears, was now beaming with pride along with Raisman, Douglas, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney, the friends that lifted her up.

So what did the Wiebers, of small DeWitt, Mich., and their traveling party, a crew of 21 that includes aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, do when the gold was won?

They went drinking, took over part of the Union Square bar inside North Greenwich Arena with a measure of rowdiness not often seen in the demur worlds of gymnastics. This was more like a Big Ten tailgate.

"I texted Jordyn and said, 'You're responsible for the liver damage of about 30 people,' " Rita said with a laugh.

At this point the Wieber backers were a London Underground train headed to a party hosted by Procter and Gamble, so the night wasn't ending soon. They certainly weren't going to let it.

[ Related: Wieber finds redemption as Team USA win gymnastics gold ]

"Oh yeah. We're just happy," said David Wieber, who works in the health care related information technology field back in Michigan. "What do you do when you're happy? You celebrate.

"It's going to be a long night. It's going to be a good one."

On Sunday, David and Rita felt helpless, knowing their daughter was frustrated and reeling. All they could do was continue to remind her that gymnastics, let alone something as precise as winning all-around gold, wasn't what her entire life was about. She got to this level by maintaining perspective, balance and toughness in all parts of her life.

This, they said, was the test.

"I talked to her on the phone a couple of times," Rita said. "I told her, 'Life will go on.' We always raised her to know that we support her in all of life, not just gymnastics. This is a great sport but if things don't turn out the way you wanted it, you'll still have a great life.

"Everything happens for a reason."

The Wiebers' faith in the team was overwhelming. They knew the others, such close friends, would help her.


“Oh my God, I can't even explain how much I love these girls," Rita said. "They are all best friends. They wanted this more than anything and they were flawless. Fabulous."

"I'm telling you," David said. "It's because these girls are really close. I'm not just blowing smoke. It makes a big difference when someone has got your back."

So now it was time for relief and excitement and reflection and, well, just some long easy laughs. As the Underground stops whipped by, the throng of Wieber fans recapped every last bit of that near-perfect team performance.

How about Douglas being so brilliant in all four rotations? And Raisman's steady, strong effort on the beam? And Ross, just 15, on the uneven bars to help shut the door? And, of course, what of Maroney's soaring, spectacular vault that staked America to a lead they'd never relinquish?

"Unbelievable," David said. "You watch it and you're like, 'That is so much better than the other girls. So much higher.' I'll tell you, they've got some studs."

He let out an easy laugh. His wife was off doing the same with one of her sisters. This here was a parent's pride on powerful display. This was a parent's joy.

Two days before, the exact same train ride from the stadium held the exact opposite emotions.

"What a night," David Wieber said. "What a night."

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