The Olympics Are Over. Now What?

6:50 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

Now that the Olympics are over, what have the athletes been up to? Most have been doing endless interviews, making endless appearances, throwing out first pitches at baseball games, and enjoying their time in the limelight. Now, many of the US athletes are training for the Kellogg's Tour of Superstars.

You know what else the athletes have been up to?


Here's a collection of tweets from after the Olympic Games.

Actually, let's look at before the Olympic Games started. The Russians showed their voracious appetites in this picture of them eating cheesecake. Each girl even had her own slice. I'm sure they tasted delicious! Ksenia Afansyeva's face tells it all: "Why are you taking my picture with a cake when I can't eat any of it?" To which I say, "Let them eat cake (after the Olympics)!"

Then, after the Games, we had quite a few tweets from the gymnasts about the food they were eating. Tori Moors started us off. I can't believe what she was eating either!


Montage Monday - Fierce Five and Ivana Hong

10:47 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Three videos in this one. They're all just that good :) 1 of the Fierce 5 using Visa footage, one of the Fierce 5 at the games, and one of an elite gymnast now a college sophomore.

First off, I'd like to introduce you guys to GymnastGirl892 on youtube (or on twitter). She's been cranking out the videos and recently made a new one to the song "Sail" by AWOLNATION. I knew I had heard the song before and Sonya Tayeh had used it to choreograph a piece for the introduction show of So You Think You Can Dance. The video can be found here. I believe the 2 dancers are trained in jazz (correct me if I'm wrong!). Don't you wish the SYTYCD choreographers could help the gymnasts out a little bit. Just a thought! Either way, GymnastGirl892 has a montage of the Fierce 5 using performances from Visa Championships. The gymnast moments go well with the rise and fall in the music. Great work!

Watch the video here or below:


Where Have All the Straddle Splits Gone?

3:17 PM Arabian Punch Front 4 Comments


This post was sparked back at the end of last school year. After watching NCAA gymnastics and some of Shawn Johnson and Alicia Sacramone's old routines, I started to wonder where all the straddle splits have gone. The nice thing about NCAA is that there's a pretty wide variety in moves. Not the same can be said for elite gymnastics even at the Olympic level where different countries come together to perform... essentially the same thing. All this data is from the 2012 Olympics Balance Beam Event Finals.

Dismounts were surprisingly more varied that I expected although the same cannot be said for mounts. Three gymnasts performed the jump on mount which is exactly what it sounds like. Sui Lu, Deng Linlin and Aly Raisman all jumped from the spring board onto the beam. It was very exciting! Three gymnasts performed a squat or stoop through to rear support - Larisa Iordache, Gabby Douglas, and Viktoria Komova. The nice thing about this mount is that they all had to stand up and did so in different ways. One point for variety! The other two gymnasts did different mounts. Catalina Ponor did a straddle mount and Ksenia Afanasyeva did a roll on mount. Ponor and Afanasyeva were also the only two athletes to compete an Onodi. For dismounts, Ksenia Afansyeva did a double tuck dismount. Sui, Deng, and Douglas all performed a double pike dismount. Catalina Ponor one upped them with a full-in pike dismount. Raisman and Komova both did Patterson dismounts (double arabian). Iordache wins originality points for doing a triple twist dismount, the only one to twist off the beam.

The current code requires that 2 dance skills are done in combination. Guess what skill every athlete used? A split jump! And they only did it in two different ways. Sui, Ponor, Deng, and Iordache all did wolf jump-split jump. Actually, Iordache decided to be a little interesting and do split jump-wolf jump. The other 4 athletes (Douglas, Komova, Raisman, Afanasyeva) all did split jump-sissones. It's understandable. Why do something difficult when all you need to do is fill a requirement? Do 2 A-level jumps and that's all! I watched the 1996 Balance Beam Event Final to see if this rule was always in place. It might have been but the gymnasts did different things like switch split to wolf jump, switch to straddle, and switch to straddle 1/2. These jumps and leaps are more difficult than the A combination we're seeing now and they used straddle jumps. Also, all athletes competed a switch split.

The dreaded and often overused front handspring - back handspring - layout wasn't used as often as you might think. Only Ponor, Douglas, and Afanasyeva used the skill and Douglas was the only one to do the layout step out. Aly Raisman was the only athlete not to have a front aerial in her routine. Our sport is making some progress! Five athletes competed a side somi with mixed results - some looked pretty, some looked like they were getting ready to sit down. Afanasyeva, who performed an Onodi - side somi, was the only one to connect it.

soruce: monigymnastics

To leave things on a positive note, there was some creativity. Deng Linlin must be acknowledged for her amazing pass back handspring - back handspring to 2 feet - layout to 2 feet - Korbut. It's amazing everytime (above gif)! Catalina Ponor connected a switch split to a Kotchketkova or a full twisting back handspring. Ksenia Afanasyeva was the only athlete to compete a tour jete skill - she performed a tour jete half. I have a soft spot for sheep jumps. Deng, Sui, and Komova all performed sheep jumps while Deng and Komova used it in combination. Deng did a sheep to back tuck and Komova did a front aerial - back tuck - sheep jump.


In the end, I'm still back where I started, confused about the lack of variety on beam. Where have all the straddle splits gone? Sadly, if Diana Bulimar of Romania had been allowed to compete in the event finals, she would've added a little variety with the lone straddle split of event finals. From what I understand of the 2012 Code of Points, the maximum element value for a straddle split variation was a D. There are 2 Johnson skills in the Code of Points. Valued at a C level is "a leap fwd with leg change and 1⁄4 turn (90°) to side split (180°) or straddle pike position". The "D" Johnson adds another half turn onto that. In comparison, a switch leap is worth a C while a switch split 1/2, which Raisman performed, and a sheep jump are both worth D's. The only leap valued at an E was a switch ring.

So, why the preference for front splits when straddle splits have similar values?


Vote on Team USA's Leos!

7:45 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

I've had a hard time deciding which one of the Team USA Olympic leotards is my favorite. I think they're all just average, to be honest. None of them were as bad as I thought they would be based on pictures from camp or Sports Illustrated. Seeing a leotard in motion and seeing a picture are apparently two very different things! My thoughts are below as well as the thoughts of a few tweet buddies and another gymnastics blog. You'll get to vote at the end to let us know what was Team USA's best and worst leotard!

Podium training leo - we all panicked when we saw the pink! It was just podium training though and I think the pink leos with the pink layout of the floor really pumped up the girls. For that reason, and the fact that it was podium training, I'm fine with this leo.


Athlete Superlatives - Coaching Style!

9:41 PM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

The Olympic Games were exciting! There was so much good gymnastics and so much fun on the gymternet :) I decided to do things a little differently with my Olympic recap. Here, I'm pretending that I owned a gym and these are the athletes that I'd want on staff. I realize this gym would probably have to be the size of 3 gyms, have lots of interested young ladies, and have an endless budget. Here's what I came up with for Arabian Punch Front Gym.

National Team Athletes
Vaulting Coach - Maroney
Duh. McKayla Maroney finally stuck her Amanar. What more could you want in a vaulting coach?

Uneven Bars Coach - the podium, Aliya Mustafina, He Kexin, Beth Tweddle
I think I'd want the entire podium in. If I had to pick just one athlete, I think it would be Aliya since she combines what I love about bars. He Kexin has the lovely body line and angles throughout everything and would come with an extensive background in Chinese pirouetting techniques. Beth Tweddle would provide some killer exercises for shoulder strength and flexibility while also teaching the athletes every release known to woman gymnastics-kind. Aliya Mustafina would be the perfect blend of the two and could teach Shaposhnikova's (the low to high bar transition) as well as dismounts where you randomly throw a half twist like no one's watching (am I the only one who gets shocked EVERY time she does that last half turn... then sticks it?!)


Interview with Video Editor Chris Saccullo/iLitter

7:50 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

Chris Saccullo is an amazing montage maker that has gotten rave reviews from fans and gymnasts alike. Athletes like Nastia Liukin and Jordyn Wieber have contacted him personally because they love his work. Chris does an amazing job of highlighting the careers of gymnasts with the help of the perfect song and the perfect effect. He should be hired for his amazing skills with advertisement. Maybe more people would watch gymnastics throughout the years if he did commercials! Chris has over 145 videos on his account about all different gymnasts and all with a unique style to them. I had the chance to chat with him and here's what I learned.

Tell us about yourself (you can include whatever you want – things like name, age, school/work, sports, hobbies, did you do gymnastics yourself/how far, where you’re from, etc.)

My name is Chris Saccullo and I live in Florida. For work, I'm the owner and operator of a trading card shoppe, licenced in real estate and property management. Hobbies: sneakerhead, bodybuilding, MMA, WWE and basketball fan. I competed gymnastics from 4 till about 12 years of age.

How long have you been making montages?

Since late 2008


Tie Break Heart Break

2:28 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments


The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
The Olympic Creed

As I started to create this post (for the 3rd time), I was looking for something that represented the Olympic spirit. The quote actually challenged everything I wanted to say, but, in the end, I think it still embodies what's going on in gymnastics.

Two other blogs have already spoken about the tie break issue - The Couch Gymnast and Confessions of a Gym Fan. Like Brigid at The Cough Gymnast, the tie break situation made it hard for me to appreciate otherwise stellar performances. Instead of celebrating Hungarian Krisztian Berki's win on pommel horse, I felt awful that the Berki-Louis Smith duel ended this way and that Great Britain was denied their first gold medal in men's artistic gymnastics. Instead of celebrating Gabrielle Douglas' historic gold medal in the all-around, I was feeling for Aly who, once again, was 4th in the world when she wasn't really. Instead of celebrating Aly's gold medal on floor, I was tortured by Vanessa Ferrari's 4th place. Instead of celebrating Aly's opportunity to get bronze on balance beam, I felt horrible for 2004 Olympic Balance Beam Champion Catalina Ponor sitting in 4th.

Looking at the medal tally explains why I am so angered by this tiebreak rule. For women's artistic gymnastics, Beth Tweddle of Great Britain was the only athlete not from a Top 4 country to get a medal. Russia has 6 medals, USA has 5 medals, while China and Romania each have 3 in the women's competition. Yamilet Pena of the Dominican Republic was the only athlete who competed as an individual at the Olympics that advanced to an event final. Vanessa Ferrari could have gone home with Italy's only medal, male or female, for artistic gymnastics.

While athletes should be excited just to be at the Olympics, it's tough for an athlete, like Vanessa Ferrari, to be so close to a medal and have that stripped from you. Gymnastics is a subjective sport, obviously. Our beloved Code of Points is designed to evaluate gymnasts. If two gymnasts are tied, isn't it based on this set of standards? Why is there a need to go further to separate them if the judges already have?

Along with being a subjective sport, reputation matters. As much as we like to pretend that judging isn't biased in any way, judges are humans too. They've seen the scores that athletes score at home or at other international competition. With all the media, I'm sure they're aware of expected form deduction on triple twists or death defying vaults. It's hard for a nation to break into the top when they're expected to be on the bottom. Imagine what a bronze medal on floor could have done for Italy. Do you not think that Beth Tweddle opened the door for Great Britain and for Hannah Whelan? That Hannah Whelan then opened the door for Rebecca Tunney, who placed 13th in the all-around? Judges look at you a little differently when they expect great things from you.

My other issue is more of a plea. These athletes started the quad trying to make their 6-athlete World squad. Then, come the Olympics, one spot is automatically dropped to make a 5 member team. Not only that. Only 2 athletes from the same country are allowed to compete in any final. These athletes are the best of the best, survived the selection process, survived the 2 per country, survived the code, and you STILL find reason for them not to medal? Someone please explain the sense in that! If you've evaluated them to be the same as another athlete, after all the hoops they've jumped through, why is there a reason to differentiate them now? These athletes "fought hard," just as the creed said, so why diminish their achievement by changing their placement?

As a side note, this is the reason I am in support of the 2-per country rule. Balance beam final consisted of 8 athletes - 2 of each from the top 4 countries. In a state of Olympic spirit, unity amongst the world, it would be unfair for certain countries to have an unfair advantage. I would most definitely be a fan of 3 per country with 36 athletes in the all-around or maybe even 3 per country and 12 athletes in the event finals. My reason, again, is that this is a sport of reputation. How is an athlete or a nation supposed to have a chance at achieving greatness if they're never given the chance to compete in a final or if the opportunity for a medal is taken from them?

After losing a spot in the all-around, Jordyn Wieber said, "It is what it is." To some extent, I agree - rules are rules whether it's 5-per country, 2-per country, tiebreaks, etc. These athletes are capable of what seems impossible. All of the top 4 countries have had some dip in medal achievement since the new millennium but were able to come back strong for these Olympic Games. Canada had an amazing 5th place finish in their first ever team final with 2 athletes competing in vault finals and 1 in the all-around final. Brazil has opened the world's eyes to their gymnastics with their now steady veterans in Daiane dos Santos and Daniele Hypolito three Olympic cycles ago. Fabulous gymnasts from Mexico, Greece, Guatemala, and the Netherlands are also forcing us to look in other directions for exciting gymnastics.

All of these athletes and their achievements are teaching me that success takes time but it would be nice to get the recognition when it's earned. I just don't think it's fair for someone's achievement, whether it be gold, silver, or bronze, to be shoved aside on a tie break. Based on the FIG's code, the gymnast earned that placement or earned that medal. Then, let them gymnasts get the placement or the medal they deserve!


What an Exciting End!

4:18 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Aly Raisman hugs coach, Mihai Brestyan

My oh my! The Olympics certainly had its highs and lows but this post will be mostly about the highs. Day 3 proved to be an exciting event finals, especially the second half of events with men's high bar and women's floor exercise. My feed kept freezing for women's BB, so I've chosen not to talk about it in detail here. This post will focus on the last 2 events that concluded our 2012 Olympic Artistic Gymnastics competition.


Uneven Bar Event Finals Wrap-Up

7:46 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Uneven bars are my favorite event. I don't understand all the names of all the pirouette moves nor can I name all of Tweddle's release moves but I thoroughly enjoy watching this event. I'm excited with the way the podium turned out - both who was on the podium and the order.


Explaining Vault - Olympic VT EF

8:19 AM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

In vault event finals, gymnasts are required to do 2 vaults from different families. "Families" refers to the fact that the vaults should have different entries. Here are a few of the different kinds of vaults we'll see in the vault event final.

Front Handspring
From the vault finalists, we'll likely see two kind of front handspring vaults. The first is called a Rudi - front handspring onto the horse with 1.5 twists off. It has a 6.3 SV. Oksana Chusovitna and Janine Berger (GER) and Ellie Black (CAN) plan to compete this vault in event finals.

The other vault we'll see is the Produnova, or front handspring double front, from the Dominican Republic's Yamilet Pena. This vault is the hardest being done by a woman with a 7.1 SV. Pena did not land the vault in qualifications but landed a few in podium training. Watch Yamilet Pena attempt a Produnova HERE. She lands it but has a very deep squat.

The Tsukahara vault (abbreviated as Tsuk) is a 1/4 or 1/2 turn onto the vault. Three gymnasts will do different Tsukahara vaults. Ellie Black does a Tsukahara full with a 5.2 SV. Oksana Chusovitna does a Tsukahara 1.5 with a 5.5 start value. Janine Berger, who could sneak into the medals if she hits, vaults a Tsukahara double twist. This has a 6.0 SV.

Watch Oksana Chusovitna do both a Rudi and Tsukahara 1.5 HERE

Next, and most commonly, we have the Yurchenko vaults. Almost every athlete competing today does a Yurchenko vault. These vaults are a round off onto the springboard with a back handspring onto the horse. The two that we'll see are a double twisting Yurchenko, DTY, (5.8 SV) and a 2.5 twisting Yurchenko (6.5 SV). The 2.5 twist is called an Amanar after Romania's Simona Amanar. McKayla Maroney has the best Amanar in the world. She gets amazing height, is straight throughout, and has enough time for a clean landing. Check out Maroney's stuck Amanar on deadspin HERE with slow mo!

Round off, half on
The last class of vaults that we'll see in event finals have a "round off, half on entry." Like the Yurchenko, the athlete will start with the round off but will do a half turn so that they are facing the horse as they approach it. Again, there are 3 variations of this the athletes can use. The round off, half on, 1/2 twist off is called a Lopez and has a 5.6 SV. Canada's Brittany Rogers uses this vault. A round off, half on, full twist off is not given a name in the Code of Points but is unofficially called a Mustafina. McKayla Maroney (USA) will compete this vault. Lastly, the most difficult in this bunch is called a Cheng after China's great vaulter, Cheng Fei. This is a round off, half on, 1.5 twists off. This vault is out of a 6.5, same as the Amanar. There is training video of Sandra Izbasa doing this vault but it has not yet been seen in competition. We'll have to wait and see what she does!

Watch Maroney do an Amanar and Mustafina HERE.

Things we/judges look for:
Laid out body position - the gymnast should have a tight, straight body position. Legs should not be bent.


Body position while landing - the gymnast should not pike down to early. The judges allow some time to ready for the landing but if it's too early, they can deduct.

Also, the chest should not be low to the ground and the feet should hit the ground first. If any other part hits the ground first, the vault will be given a 0. This has happened to Yamilet Pena when she seemed to land with her backside rather than feet.

It's like when you go in a pool. Feet first! Otherwise, you get a 0

Position on mat while landing - judges will deduct if the gymnast is off center.
Neutral Deductions - the judges will deduct if the gymnast LANDS on the red. If she steps over, it's a deduction but that will be taken from the execution score.

Then the judges also look for good form during twisting (e.g. you will get a deduction if you criss cross your feet)  and keeping your legs together on the entry onto the vault.

Athlete SV 1 Name VT1 SV 2 Name VT2 Total SV
McKayla Maroney 6.5 Amanar 6.1 Mustafina 12.6
Sandra Izbasa 6.1 Mustafina 5.8 DTY 11.9
Maria Paseka 6.5 Amanar 5.6 Lopez 12.1
Oksana Chusovitna 6.3 Rudi 5.5 Tsuk 1.5 11.8
Yamilet Pena 7.1 Produnova 5.8 DTY 12.9
Janine Berger 6.3 Rudi 6.0 Tsuk 2/1 12.3
Brittany Rogers 5.8 DTY 5.6 Lopez 11.4
Ellie Black 6.3 Rudi 5.2 Tsuk 1/1 11.5
*Izbasa may upgrade her Mustafina to a Cheng (6.5).

VT is scheduled for Sunday, August 5th 2pm British Time/9am ET/11am MT. It will likely be sandwiched between Men's Floor and Pommel Horse final.


50th Post! Olympic Highs and Lows

5:43 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

John Cheng for USA Gym


I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who stops by my blog. I recently made it over 10,000 hits and the number is growing a lot faster than I expected. I'll attribute it to Olympic Fever! I also have almost 400 followers on twitter (@ArabianPF_blog). Thanks for stopping by, commenting, tweeting, and just making the gymternet a fun place to be :)

As an anniversary post, I'll just do a few of my highs and lows for the Olympics.

Team Canada! Holy smokes! Team Canada made it to 5th in the team finals. That's an amazing feat considering this was also the FIRST time they've made it to team finals. How amazing?! Lows, however, are Victoria Moors not making FX EF and Kristina Vaculik not making AA finals. I'm mad at the judges for Moors on FX because they scored her .5 better in team finals, a score that would have put her 5th in the event finals. Vaculik had a few errors but I'm just glad she finally made it to the Olympics after injury kept her out of Beijing. Dominique Pegg made it to the AA and hit her events - leaving her 12 for 12 at the Olympics! To end on a high note - 2 Canadians, Brittany Rogers and Ellie Black, will be in vault finals tomorrow!

Team USA - I'm thrilled that we won gold. I'm thrilled Gabby won the all around. I'm not happy that 3 per country kept Jordyn Wieber, defending World Champion, out of the running and that a (stupid) tiebreaker kept Aly Raisman from getting bronze. Aly's been saying, "I've been 4th for the last 2 years in a row. I know I can make it to top 3." She had the chance but she didn't make it. It bothers me that Aly definitely had room for improvement - she left out her punch layout and touched the beam. Both of these cost her at least .7 points and a clear shot at bronze. I hope she comes back in floor finals!

Vault - I'm very sad that Giulia Steingruber didn't make VT EF. She fell in prelims on one of her vaults and finished in 9th place, just outside of the top 8 that make it to finals. In my opinion, she had the best chance of challenging the trio - Maroney, Izbasa, and Chusovitna. On a positive note, Steingruber competed in the all around final. From what I saw, she had a great floor routine in qualifications and I recommend that you all check that out at some point!

Uneven Bars are my favorite event. I'm sad that Youna Dufournet didn't make it. She was my hope for France! However, it looks like it will be a true showdown and I'm excited for that! Just to give you an idea of what we have in store:
Elizabeth Tweddle (7.0) - 2006 and 2010 World Uneven Bar Champion, finished 4th place in Beijing, has an exciting routine with 2 moves named after her
He Kexin (7.1) - 2008 Olympic Uneven Bar Gold Medalist, 2009 World Uneven Bar Champion.
Viktoria Komova (7.0) - 2011 World Uneven Bar Champion
Yao Jinnan (6.8) - 2011 World All Around Bronze Medalist
Aliya Mustafina (7.0) - 2010 European Uneven Bar Champion and 2010 World Uneven Bar Silver Medalist
Gabrielle Douglas (6.6) - finalist at 2011 Worlds
Elizabeth Seitz (6.7) - finalist at 2010 Worlds, competes a Def (full twisting Gienger)
Koko Tsurumi (6.6) - 2009 World Bronze Uneven Bar Medalist

Team Russia - I'm sad for the way they performed in  team finals. They were all in tears and yet they still managed to win silver. I'm glad they rested Komova on floor. Her floor routine in the AA was really the best I've ever seen her do. It's like she saved herself for the AA final. It's also an amazing feat to go 2-3 in the all around. We'll get to see the Russians in every event final starting with Maria Paseka on vault.

Low - very low - would be NBC's coverage. You'd think that it would be better since it's not live but, instead, NBC has interspersed gymnastics with swimming. I love watching swimming but I wouldn't mind watching one sport followed by another. I imagine they do this to keep us tortured fans, I mean viewers, to raise their ratings. At least we get some coverage, right?

Overall, I'm excited for the event finals to come. Vault should be exciting. Beth Tweddle will have room for 4th place redemption on uneven bars. Balance Beam and Floor Exercise also promise to be exciting finals.  Feel free to comment or connect with me on twitter (@ArabianPF_blog). I enjoy my conversations with you all and thanks for visiting my site :)

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Gabby Douglas: The Great Black Hope

11:37 PM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

Dylan Martinez, REUTERS

My roommate's boyfriend didn't understand all the hype that Gabby was getting after the American Cup. He used every argument known to mankind. "So, what, she's suddenly 'the Great Black Hope?' She wasn't even competing. There was a reason she was the alternate. She didn't really compete. It's only 1 meet!" And the list goes on.

Today, I got a text, "Joy unbounded." Indeed! How many of us thought that the girl who finished 19th of 20 at the 2011 National Championships on balance beam would score the highest score of the Olympics on that very same event? Who thought that same girl would be our 2012 Olympic All Around Champion?

I'm thrilled that Gabby won the all around. Overall, she was the best on the day. She had that fire inside of her and the flame did not go out for the entire night. Gabby stayed strong through all 4 events.

Gabby moved from her family in Virginia Beach, Virginia to live with a host family so she could train with Liang Chow. Chow is the coach of 2008 Silver All Around Medalist Shawn Johnson. It was hard for Gabby to leave her family and live with a host family. She went to a new place and suddenly went from the youngest of 4 siblings to the oldest. Gabby also had demons to face as her dad was in the army and away for most of the time. There were nightmares where she worried her father wouldn't make it back home and one Christmas where Gabby almost returned back with her mother. Instead, she decided to stay in Iowa and fight for her dream. Today, her dream became her reality!

One thing I wanted to talk about is what an honor it must be for Chow to have received such a special gymnast when she was so young. A gymnast, just barely a teenager, that was ready to leave her life and her family behind so she could train with Chow. Gabby liked the way she saw Chow and Shawn at the Olympics and Chow was able to teach Gabby an Amanar when he visited her old gym for a clinic. From that moment on, Gabby knew she wanted Chow to be the coach that took her to the Olympics.

What an honor this must be for a coach! Chow didn't even produce the 2008 all around champion but Gabby saw something in Chow that she wanted. And, boy, did it pay off.

Missy Parton, host mom (left in red), Natalie Hawkins, mom
2nd row left to right John, brother, Arielle and Joyelle Douglas, sisters
Matt Dunham, AP

I'd just like to say thank you to Arielle for telling her mom to put Gabby in gymnastics. Thank you to Natalie Hawkins for being brave and letting your baby girl chase her dream. Thank you to Missy Parton and your family for taking Gabby under your wing. Thank you to Chow for producing the first African-American US team and all-around gold medalist.

And thank you Gabby for dreaming big. I'm sure you've inspired a generation!

source: Gabby: Women's AA Gallery


Olympic AA Final and Wishlist

10:09 AM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Today's the day! A new all-around champion will be crowned. Here's a link to the FIG start list, complete with the order after each subdivision: here

Starting on VT: Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Victoria Komova, Vanessa Ferrari, Deng Linlin and Aliya Mustafina

Starting on UB: Huang Qiushuang, Larisa Iordache, Asuka Teramoto, Elisabeth Seitz, Jessica Lopez, Sandra Izbasa

Starting on BB: Hannah Whelan, Ana Sofia Gomez, Rebecca Tunney, Carlotta Ferlito, Celine van Gerner, Dominique Pegg

Starting on FX: Aurelie Malaussena, Emily Little, Giulia Steingruber, Ashleigh Brennan, Rie Tanaka, Marta Pihan-Kulesza

First off, I have to commend Deng Linlin for continuing after the 2008 Olympics and qualifying to the all around in 5th place. Deng was in the shadow of Chinese stars Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin, who earned a bronze in the all around in 2008. It's amazing to come back 4 years later and to be one of China's all around stars.

I feel like the fight will be against the 2 Americans - Douglas and Raisman - and the 2 Russians - Komova and Mustafina. Larisa Iordache and one of the Chinese will also be in the hunt. We'll have to watch for Raisman on bars. In the last 2 World Championships, she's done fine in qualifications but then fell apart in the all around final. She's been pushing through her routine, though, and if she does as well today as she did at qualifications, she has a good chance at a medal. We'll have to wait and see if Aliya Mustafina vaults the Amanar. This will give her an extra .7 in start value although she'll probably sacrifice some in execution. This is where Aliya tore her ACL. Komova will be first up on BB and last up on FX. If she hits, I believe that gold will be hers, especially based on the way judges scored her last error-filled balance beam routine. The order will likely change based on Gabby's BB and Komova's FX. It will also be interesting to see where 2006 World All Around Champion Vanessa Ferrari places as she is in the rotation with the stars (the leaders).

Iordache and the Chinese also have a chance. For the 2 Chinese, consistency will be their key. Huang Qiushang had all kinds of errors for China in the team final. If Larisa comes back with a spark, I think she'll also be in the hunt. Perhaps Larisa could be like Kohei - not in the top rotation but still in the hunt for gold.

This will be an interesting AA final since some of the athletes - like the Chinese and Iordache will be in a different rotation. They will be finishing on vault and may choose to throw more difficult vaults if they have a chance at a medal. This also means that placement of the top 12 athletes will likely change a lot between rotations.

My Wishlist:
- I'm not doing a podium since I feel like I jinxed the US men.

- Fair judging!

- No injuries on Amanars or anything really.

- I'm hoping that Komova doesn't have little tenths on floor that cause her a title again. I hope that Gabby hits beam like she did in TF and Aly hits bars just as she's been doing, especially in qualifications. I hope Iordache comes out and finds her thunder again. In qualifications, she seemed to lose a little of her shine and I hope it comes back.

- I hope Huang Qiushuang doesn't fall.

- If everything goes crazy, I hope that Tunney, Lopez, and Gomez have a shot at a medal :)

- I hope Steingruber finishes Top 20 or so. She didn't qualify to vault finals but is actually a surprisingly steady all arounder. If you have the chance, watch her floor routine! It's a lot more artistic than I expected from one of the best vaulters!

- I'm rooting for Dominique Pegg as the sole representative of Team Canada. She's had an excellent meet thus far and hopefully can continue to perform. (I'm sure the tweet from Justin Bieber helped her too!)

Honestly, I think I'll be happy with any medal podium, provided there is fair judging.

I'll be rooting for gold for whoever isn't wearing hot pink. ;) Let's have blue be the color for the next quad!

[If you've had trouble viewing the meet, I recommend that you check All Chalked Up's Tips For a Better Live Stream. I didn't want to download anything but it's been worth it. The ads don't randomly interrupt anymore and I've been able to have 2 feeds open. I think 2 videos will be important since we have star athletes in 2 rotations.]