Olympic Games- Blog Post 7
The Olympic Games provided case and point to the old adage “that’s why you play the game”. Jordyn was picked by many as the pre-meet favorite in the All Around… but that is why you play the game. If their was a “LOCK” for a gold medal, most would have placed their money on Makayla Maroney and her world class moon shot vaulting ability. But again, that is why you play the game. I felt so bad for her as she sat down her second vault thus opening the door for the biggest upset of the gymnastics weekend. 9 times out of 10 Makayla wins the gold on Vault but this was that 1 in 10 day. She stated it best saying she was not disappointed with the SIlver medal, but just the performance.
Event finals at World and Olympic games use a NO 30 SECOND TOUCH rule. You have access to the podium for an open training period and then are transferred to the warm up gym for additional warm up if needed. This creates a situation where athletes have to change equipment, and sit around waiting for hours (Jordyn had 3 hours from podium exposure to actual competition). NO 30 Second touch is something the FIG deemed appropriate due to the supposed needs of television. NBC officials state that they really wouldn’t care (perfect commercial time) WOW great call FIG… lets put the health of the athletes at risk for the sake of TV ratings and efficiency.
Rumors of a vault finals controversy struck when one Amanar was deemed incomplete by the judges (thus giving it .7 less in start value). This was over turned by the FIG WTC chair Nelli Kim. I am quite certain that slow motion replays will verify that the floor judges made the right call BUT the end result was a medal for the wrong athlete. The evaluations of vaulting through the games was frustrating from the standpoint of separation of the good and great. Team finals was in my opinion a judging travesty. Just review the vaults of the top teams and if you can justify the separation of scores I would love to know how.
I hope I do not sound like I am bashing the FIG. I am sure all their decisions and rules have a sound fundamental basis and many great people with good intentions serve on this governing body. But when rules don’t make sense, people need to voice an opinion if for not other reason than to enrich the debate. Rules that need to be revisited with open minds are:
1- The 2 per country rule. The FIG stance is that this rule helps promote the sport of gymnastics. My stance (and many many others) is that this is flawed thinking. FIG feels that spreading the wealth for more countries will foster growth in that country. I do not see any indication of this working and feel that growth of the sport can be directly attributed to exposure to it’s best athletes. Nadia and Olga sent gymnastics sky rocketing in the USA. The point being, the gymnastics world wants to see the sports best athletes. The 100 meter sprint featured 3 Jamaican and 3 USA sprinters in a final field of 8 athletes, yet it is inappropriate for countries to have 3 AA finalist in a field of 24? I beat a dead horse.
2- The Tie breaker rule. First of all if athletes tie for the Bronze, award both as this would spread the wealth and give more countries a moment in the gymnastics glory spotlight. BUT if tie breaking is deemed necessary then do so based on execution scores NOT dropping your lowest of your 4 event scores as this allows the athlete with the largest mistake to gain the upper hand.
3- The Age rule. We all know the controversy here and it is widely believed that the forging of documents still exists. Regardless of the FIG thinking, this is a little girls sport. Yes it is wonderful when we see such established champions as Ponar and Ferrari, Chusovitina and more grace the Olympic stage. BUT younger athlete’s can perform this sport at it’s highest level also. This combined with the rules that contradict the mission (i.e. we want older athletes yet create a disadvantage with a 180 cm spread on the bars and 125cm table and beam height) makes the lure of cheating very attractive. Lower the age limit back to 14, and more countries could field competitive teams and in turn create less incentive for cheating.
4- 3 up 3 count team finals- On one hand the FIG wants to spread the wealth by limiting the number of finalists per country, but on the other they limit the number of opportunities to participate in the Olympic Games. One argument for this rule was given by FIG committee member and former USAG president Bob Colarassi … he stated that some countries simply can not field more than 3 athletes to which I reply these teams are more than likely not the ones that qualify to team finals so this is a moot point.
5- 5 Member teams- Another contradiction. The FIG wants to foster the growth of the sport yet limits the number of opportunities per country. Providing realistic opportunities to represent your country would serve this goal much better. First 7 members, then 6, now 5. With this as evidence I would say that the mission to growth the sport is failing miserably.
Event finals were separated into 3 days of competition. Day one had Mens Floor and Pommels with Women’s Vault. Day 2 had Mens Rings and Vault with Women’s Bars and Day 3 had mens PBars and High Bar with Women’s Beam and Floor. Going into Bar finals we knew a medal would be very difficult. The Chinese, Russians and home country favorite Beth Tweddle would be tough to match.
On the final day Aly Raisman shined for the USA winning a bronze on Beam and Gold on Floor. Nobody works harder than Aly and I couldn’t be happier for her and her coaches. The beam results looked to mirror the AA with Aly finishing 4th and out of the medals. BUT an inquiry was posted and upheld thus giving Aly a tie for 3rd. This time she won the tie breaker (which is based on the execution score).
As I mentioned earlier Jordyn had a 3 hour wait between the podium warm up and Floor finals. In the mean time she waited patiently in the warm up gym. With 30 minutes to go prior to march in for Floor finals we did our normal meet warm up trying to time the conclusion as close to march in as possible.
Jordyn has not verbalized much about her intentions past these Olympic Games. This brought about the realization that these Floor finals could very well be the last routine she ever performs as one of my gymnasts. A emotional moment for me. I pulled her aside and gave her a misty eyed pep talk. “I am hoping that this is not the last routine of our partnership but if it is I just wanted to thank you. Sincerely. I have added many lines to my personal resume that would have never been possible were it not for you. So if indeed this might be our last hurrah… lets make it sparkle! I want you to channel all the frustrations from the all around day disappointment and let it serve to fuel the Jordyn Wieber fire inside. You deserve and have earned success. Love you”.
The individual accolades for Jordyn were just not to be at this Olympic Games. Whether it be fate, pressure, health, lack of focus or lack of coaching, I guess we will never know. Whatever the final verdict is let it be known that I could not be more proud of any one individual had she won 5 gold medals. It has been a remarkable journey since Jordyn tumbled into the national and international gymnastic scene in 2006. She has always been a remarkable athlete but even more than that a remarkable young lady. Her resume may not include all of her ultimate goals but it certainly is one of the most impressive ever and let us not forget the fact that it includes an OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL. Thank you Jordyn!