Olympic Wrap-up Part 1: Why The Olympics Didn't Feel Like the Olympics

7:40 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

I wrote this post about a month ago and have been waiting to post it until I had Part 2 ready. Part 2 will may come tomorrow.


A lot of us are sitting, waiting for the next gymnastics competition to come along (which is tomorrow!). We're frantically refreshing blogs, searching for pictures of training, while praying for a new meet and no retirements. After the Olympics ended, I felt empty. That's not to say it wasn't a great Games, something just wasn't quite right afterwards. Something just didn't sit right with me.

The All-Around Battle
The All-Around Battle was probably everything we did not expect. There were main headlines - Jordyn v. Gabby and USA v. Russia - that we didn't quite get. Gabby was supposed to be fighting with Jordyn, not Aly. Viktoria Komova was supposed to prove to the world that she deserved that all-around crown over Jordyn. Unfortunately for this duel, Jordyn wasn't there. We had the return of Aliya Mustafina but who thought that the bronze medalist would, like Yao Jinnan in 2011, again have a fall on beam? Who thought that the bronze medal would be determined by a tie break where only THREE scores count in the all-around? Where did that come from?

Romania's New Kid on The Block
Romania left 2011 Worlds without a single medal. A shocking realization for the country and their fans leaving us wondering where they stood in gymnastics. By 2012 European Championships, they seemed like they had it figured out. Larisa Iordache was to help save Romania!

Yes, that's a bit dramatic but that was the way it seemed. Romania was lacking on bars and Iordache could hold her own. She also had an exciting floor routine that was as electric as her Pikachu leotard. They came into the Games with two amazing beam workers and three amazing floor workers. I was waiting for a duel for the balance beam gold and for a duel between whichever two of the three athletes made floor finals.

Sadly, Iordache's heel was injured. Just before the Games and throughout, Iordache was dealing with plantar fasciitis. She tried her best to compete but it was not enough. After their surge (thanks to Pikachu) at the European Championships, there was talk of Romania fighting for gold at the Olympics. Sadly, it didn't happen.

Team Finals
I am thrilled that the USA won gold but it was not a pretty finals. Much like 2011 Worlds, I was left wanting more just because the competition seemed to end before the meet was over. The USA essentially hit 12-for-12. Aly needed a little more than a 10.0 for the USA to get gold. There were a few missed routines or a few missed moments for USA but no country seemed to capitalize on it as they were making their own mistakes. USA beat Russia by 5.426 points. Remember when we thought it was going to be a tight battle for gold, silver, and bronze? Remember when we didn't know which country would be left out of the medals? It all unraveled rather quickly.

Favorite Routine of the Games
To be entirely honest, I don't have a favorite routine of this Games. McKayla Maroney's Team Final vault was AMAZING! But, it takes longer for me to load the page to watch her vault then to actually watch the performance itself. Then, I've really taken to Kyla Ross and watching her balance beam and post-beam hug and tears because they're adorable but something's still missing.

In 2008, I remember watching the ENTIRE all-around over and over again. At the very least, I found all Nastia videos or Nastia v. Shawn videos. Then, one of my favorite moments was watching Nastia and Valeri after each routine especially after floor. I loved when she ran to him after her gold was official. I don't have a moment like that now. I do love watching Aliya exclaim when she moves into first on uneven bars but something is not pulling at my heart the way it was before.

You know what else I don't have? Jiang Yuyuan's floor routine.

No one has really spoken about the judging yet so I will. I know I'm no expert but again I wonder what was going on. Part of my issue was the discrepancy in judging between 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics. I thought that most athletes would be on top of their turns, especially double turns, at the Olympics considering what happened to Vika in 2011. Her turns weren't credited and that cost her the 2011 All-Around crown. Instead, athletes were falling out of turns with no apparent deduction in D score or really in E score.

There are a few E-scores to look at though. Let's take Maria Paseka's vault in team finals. Girlfriend flew off the mat and you give her an 8.8? Also, i'm thrilled Aly got a 9 in execution score on floor but don't you think if Aly got a 9, everyone else gets a little higher too? I'm not saying Aly didn't deserve her score but she had the highest execution score of the entire floor finals. Maybe they actually started to deduct for helicopter legs and not just leap errors.

There are 5 judges on the E panel but there are also 2 reference judges. The qualities needed to use the reference judges can be found here. Vika would have won the all-around if the reference scores were used. Beth Tweddle would have won silver, not bronze, had the reference score NOT been used. I'm sure this is meant to ensure accurate judging but I get a little skeptical of judging in general when Catalina Ponor's e-scores on floor ranged from 8.5-9.3. The price we pay for a subjective sport.

If there's one thing to say about the floor judges, it's that they actually awarded the quality of the performance. For example, I was angry that Victoria Moors didn't make the floor final but when you watch her in qualifications versus team finals, you see the spark in her eye that lured you into her performance moreso than in qualifications.

My biggest wish is that the scores were consistent between the Olympic Games and World Championships. It keeps you guessing whether judges are finally going to deduct for certain things versus others.

the last one...

In the end, I think the tiebreak ruined these Games for me. We started with Team Finals which went by pretty quickly. Then, we moved on to all-around finals where Aliya Mustafina and Aly Raisman were tied for bronze. I was excited! Aliya came back from an ACL tear in time to become an all-around Olympic medalist. Aly who was always 4th, always the bridesmaid, never the bride, would have her turn on the podium. But, no. The IOC took that away.

I could at least pretend to understand a tiebreak that is broken via execution. It is "artistic" gymnastics and execution is where the "artistry" deductions are taken. BUT, they've chosen to drop an event. In what world does that make sense? You're picking the best athletes on 4 events and suddenly you choose 3 as a way of determining who is the best? It was unfortunate because Aly had to count bars since she had an automatic .5 deduction on beam while Aliya got to drop her fall on beam. Again, I'm thrilled for Aliya but angry at this rule.

Then, we get to UB which went along really well. I'm glad Beth's step didn't ruin her chances at a medal. I'm glad He Kexin medaled, considering she almost didn't make the team, and I was ecstatic for Aliya. I may have squealed at my computer. But then came balance beam. The final where you never know what to expect.

Sui Lu was up first, performed well and made her expressive "I survived" exhalation after her ending salute to the judges. After all athletes competed, the order was Deng Linlin, Sui Lu, Catalina Ponor, and Aly Raisman in 4th again by one-tenth of a point.

Mihai was encouraged to file an inquiry. I don't have a problem with inquiries - the gymnast should get the D-score she rightly deserves. I just wish the inquiry wasn't needed in the first place. What happened?

TIE BREAK! Queen of the Beam vs. Raisman the Rock. Aly Raisman won the tie break this time. Congratulations to Aly for getting a medal and no longer being 4th place! However, Catalina Ponor also earned that bronze too. How nice it would have been for her to have received a medal on her pet event if 2012 turns out to be her last Olympics.

Then, floor finals came and that was the one that broke my heart. Again, thrilled for Aliya. Heartbroken for Vanessa Ferrari. Why? If the judges determined that there scores were the same, why was their placement not the same?

 Part 2 to come tomorrow and it will be much more positive.

1 comment :

  1. Great post, yet I do feel that some things about the US runaway TF victory were to be expected, especially in hindsight:

    USA: Their job is to bring home the Team gold. they focus on that, they train for that, and they know full well people back home care about that medal more than any other in WAG. Nastia's 5 medals in Beijing did not cause half the stir the Fierce 5 did. Karolyi is known for being meticulous, so no wonder her lineup and tactics were made to ENSURE USA brings back the gold (Verifications). Another thing is the USA capitalizing on the over-scored Amanar, and putting Maroney last, to prevent the judges from deducting anyone vaulting Amanar BEFORE Maroney (US started on vault, so only Wieber and Douglas) and make all future vaulters in that TF pale in comparison.

    RUS: It is now clear the team was in turmoil and we just didn't know. Alexandrov blames Grishina's coach openly, while violating the Russian "taboo" by staying the head coach for Mustafina (super-high maintenance). Add to that Komova's growth spurt, which sounded like an excuse, but turned out to make a lot of sense during her performance. Alexandrov said they (He) counted on the Troika to bring them victory, so no wonder they did not have enough depth when Grishina crumbled.

    ROM: Something bad is happening there, and now it seems Romania's priorities have shifted, and they no longer take national pride in WAG like they used to. What else can explain two 18 year old gymnasts with no health issues retiring from the team AND sport in 2012? or maybe worse, the fact that the team had to move a gym in the city, because the meager wage offered to the support staff did not make commuting to the country worthwhile.

    PRC: Not many tears were shed in London for China's WAG team. after The biased judging at the Beijing Olympics, persisting feelings of age falsification and rumored unethical treatment of athletes, who even wants them to succeed internationally?

    The real story of this Olympics (for me) is the the Vault event and how it changed everything, in ways it probably shouldn't. and not just in the TF.