Aly Raisman, captain of The Fab Five, was the last competitor in the last obstacle standing between them and gold: the floor exercise.
As a familiar musical tune sounded throughout the arena, the audience clapped along with the cheery, traditional melody, supporting and encouraging the 18-year-old with shouts and smiles.
And, as we all know, Raisman nailed it, delivering “75 nearly flawless seconds” of performance, says TheLedger.com, and sealing her team’s place in first for the all-around women’s gymnastics at the 2012 London Olympics.
Wait a minute –– familiar music? Traditional melody?
As it turns out, Raisman, who is Jewish, chose the traditional Jewish song “Hava Nagila” to accompany her Olympic floor routine and help her win the gold.
“I like how the crowd can clap to it,” Raisman told Haaretz.com, which reports on Jewish news.
According to the website, she also said she is proud to be using the Jewish song “because there aren’t too many Jewish elites out there.”
“It’s a huge honor to be the first Jewish gold medalist of the 2012 (London) Games,” Raisman told NationalReview.com.
Haaretz reports that the teenager from Needham, Mass., won the Pearl D. Mazor Outstanding Female Jewish High School Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, which is given out by the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in New York.
However, even more important to Raisman than the Jewish connotations the song has, says Haaretz, is how she says it inspires audience participation.
Coincidentally, a documentary film called “Hava Nagila” is set to premiere on Aug. 2 at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. The film, which opens the festival, was created by Roberta Grossman, who was raised in Los Angeles and went to University of California, Berkeley.
“’Hava Nagila’ is more than a song. It’s an entire constellation of experiences across cultural divides,” said Grossman, according to SFGate.com.