In 1991 Kim Zmeskal was the reigning world champion coming into the Barcelona Olympics. She even won two titles at the strangely timed Paris worlds hosted in the spring of 1992. Obviously beaten up by the time of the games Kim and the girls that survived the strangest and in the opinion of many (ask the other Kim) were injured and over worked. Zmeskal the reigning world champion on beam fell off on a back handspring and with it the dreams of Olympic glory fame and fortune.
Few now remembers Kim the world champion of Indianapolis those who remember her remember the girl who didn´t win the Olympics. At those games another American stole the show Shannon Miller but she also lost to an ex-Soviet gymnast. Shannon however won the next two Worlds and becoming one of the few to do so. A fact only gymnastics fans are aware of. By the Atlanta games Miller was past her prime but managing to win an additional gold on the beam to go with her Team medal. The star of the team became as we know Kerri Strug. Not for her great gymnastics but for her courage and fighting spirit. Much to the dismay of her better and higher scoring teammates she became the most famous of them all. Kerri never won an individual world or Olympic medal but her story is maybe the most frequently told and watched on youtube.
It makes no difference that the US would have won the competition without her risking her already injured ankle.
But this is the Olympic effect. If you stand out (although you might not win) at the games it does not really matter what else you do are have done to the common viewer. Just remember Nadia was never the AA world champion nor was Olga or Mary Lou or Nastia but those are the names remembered till this day. This is the unfair spell of the only gymnastics competition that really matters.