Monday, July 30, 2012

Gymnastics "controversy"

Image credit: Gregory Bull/AP
On Sunday night, Jordyn Wieber of the U.S. failed to qualify for the All Around finals, despite finishing fourth overall. How is this possible, you ask? Because two of Wieber's teammates - Gabby Douglas and Ali Raisman - finished ahead of her, and the idiotic rule is that only two athletes from each country can go on to compete in the All Around Final. 

Here's what I have to say about that - only two athletes advancing from each country is a joke. The rule is intended to keep a single nation (or a few select nations) from single-handedly dominating the medal podium, but what it's really doing is keeping deserving gymnasts who legitimately earn high scores from taking part in competitions they've earned the right to dominate. The "top 24" advance to the All Around, but the best 24 aren't competing - the 3rd-place athletes from the U.S., Russia and Romania, though having top -24 scores, won't be there.

I know this has been a rule for awhile, but it still infuriates me;  it's like the Olympic Committee is saying, "I know you've worked out 7 hours a day every day of your life, but let's give someone from (insert gymnastics non-powerhouse country here) a chance - even though they will never medal and you may have had a chance." 

Case in point: in 1992, Tatiana Gutsu (of the then "Unified Team") had a rough qualification and finished fourth on her team (then, each country could send three to the All Around). But her coaches knew she had a chance to win, so the 3rd place finisher on that team, poor Roza Galieva, was forced (in her words) to say she had an injury and couldn't compete so Gutsu could - and Gutsu won the gold medal. If not for being on a powerhouse team, Gutsu would have made it to the All Around without a teammate having to fall on the proverbial sword.
Top 24 should mean TOP 24, no matter what country they are from.


Steve Lustbader said...

Isn't this basically the same thing that happens with qualifiers before the olympics start? You've got a bunch of people competing for a limited number of spots on your national team, and it doesn't matter how well you've done in previous events if you're not good enough in the qualifier.

This Sports Chick said...

Steve, the reason I don't think it's the same is because, in this case, Wieber's score put her in the top 5, yet she didn't make the top 24 because she was third on her team. Again, I believe Top 24 should mean Top 24 overall. In national qualifiers, the top two or three go, no matter what - it doesn't matter what team they are from.

Steve Lustbader said...

Sure, the top 2 or 3 from qualifiers go, but that's all that the US gets to send, regardless of their qualifying scores. If the US has 10 sprinters who can run the 100m in 6 seconds, we would still only see 3 of them in the olympics. It's the exact same thing, except a month later.

This Sports Chick said...

Sure, but not in direct competition with all of the same judges, same location, etc. It just seems to me (and most people), that in the same competition, if it is called the "Top 24," then that's what it should be.