The history of my love for gymnastics plays like this:
I always loved watching gymnastics. My earliest memories were the 1992 games in Barcelona. Here, I remember rooting for Shannon Miller. I was 10 years old, and even then I can remember that I had heard of Kim Zmeskal. I was shocked at all I remember. I remembered that Shannon scored a 9.912 in beam finals and got second. I could remember the routine of Kim Gwang-Suk, and I remember the falls of Yang Bo and Lavinia Milosovici on beam, Milo and Lu Li‘s perfect ten’s, etc.
In Atlanta 1996, I remember watching it all and being so excited. In 2004 I was flipping through the channels and landed on the qualifications. I again got excited and made sure I watched Team Finals, AA, and EF. It took me two days to realize why I had no memory at all of the Sydney Games; I was traveling across the country with Drum Corps International, another subjectively scored event.
This is where my obsession was born. I wanted to know what happened in 2000, I wanted to see World Championships. I consulted Ebay, where anything you want in the world you can buy. I began buying burned DVD broadcasts and before long made an online friend who became my ‘gymnastics dealer.’ (Although many of my friends call her my crack dealer due to my obsession). The more I came in possession of, the more I learned. I own somewhere around 100 individual discs, and have watched them countless times. Mostly while eating, and late at night to get my mind of school and analyze something that wasn’t ‘work’. I watched them over and over to learn about scoring, why certain gymnasts would get deductions though nothing appeared wrong, etc. (Yes, I am a huge dork, I know) And now in the age of youtube, I can see whatever I need to see that I don’t have.
So this is the first time I will watch the Olympics with complete knowledge of what to expect, who will be there, who may win. I can’t imagine how angry I would be if this upcoming Olympics was the Sydney Games. I would go crazy over the incredibly poor coverage shown. I would feel cheated. And I can’t imagine this upcoming event I have waited for four years for to contain a controversy such as the All Around Vaulting Debacle. I realize I haven’t and can’t prepare for what is out of my hands. Will there be scoring controversies? That seems inevitable, as I can’t think of any World or Olympic event that doesn’t contain at least one.
And so now, here are some things in the past that I have been thinking about.
- Mohini Bhardwaj. Two things about her. 1.) She is why I keep reiterating the bubble gymnasts needed consistency throughout Nationals and Trials. But Bhardwaj wasn’t even a factor at Nationals. I wonder if this will happen with anyone else. 2.) Who else thinks there may have been a scoring error with her FX during Athens qualifications? 9.525 I thought was too high. Especially since the two performances after that garnered 9.3ishes. I have conflicting pieces of what her SV was. From 9.7 to 9.9. And as far as I know, weren’t all three performances pretty much the same? (Although sometimes I do not catch flubbed or short dance moves/combos.) Any thoughts on this?
- Courtney McCool. 1.) Did anyone else think a 9.112 in qualifying was too low on beam? Yes she bent the hips and broke form on the switch leap- Onodi- sheep jump combo. But like, that was it. Anna Pavlova made a break on her Kotchetcova-BHS-layout combo in EF. Though the break was not a bend the waist type, she did have the break in her connection, and got a 9.587 and I believe a 10 start value. 2.) I think she should have been in beam finals over Bhardwaj.
- Vanessa Atler. Would have put her on the 2000 team. I know she was a headcase and had a major meltdown at trials, but I really think she would have brought in some big scores on vault and floor. I wonder if it would be different if she were in the now. This quad. She is in some ways, the Alicia Sacramone of this quad. She wouldn’t have had to deal with bars. And oddly enough, Sacramone used to be a headcase type, but has now transformed into one of team USA’s rocks. And one thing I would have to say about Atler is on floor when she did dance combos and leaps, her feet STOPPED. She did not have to take a step or another fluffy jump out of it. She had nice grace too.
- Svetlana Khorkina. I hate to say it, but I think she was one of the most overscored gymnasts of all time. And when I say this I mean floor. Again, she looked so sloppy to me. She got the benefit of the doubt just too many times. Her floor score in the 2003 World’s AA (9.675) was ridiculous to me. I often wondered if it were more than a coincidence that one of the sponsors was the company that Khorkina modeled for. Hmmm. And I think she is crazy if she thought she should have beat Carly Patterson in Athens. I never cared for Patterson’s attitude, but I always respected her gymnastics. I did feel bad for her for the Sydney Games.
- Give Andreea Raducan her medal back.
- 2000 Olympics again. Okay, so Elena Zamolodchikova gets a 9.725 on bars during the AA, and then Elise Ray scores a 9.750 when she throws the never-competed-before layout double double? Uhhhh, right. And Elise Ray had some of the most beautiful style and form I have ever seen. I am not hating on Zamo, she is one of my sentimental faves, and one of the best vaulters of all time.
- I have never understood what was so great about Ling Jie. Bar Finals in Sydney she misses handstands, looks sluggish, hops on the dismount. She always had this sluggishness that I didn’t like and thought looked bad. Something about how she did her kips bothered me too. In EF, she hops on the dismount. Now Yang Yun I thought should have had the silver.
These are just some random things I have always questioned. By all means, give me insight I am lacking. In closing, here is my wish list for Beijing…
- NBC- Please show EVERY American competing during all events. Do the same for China. I want the broadcasts for Team and AA to be 2 hours + long. Yes. Please Al Trautwig, shut up for the most part and don’t say anything dumb. Andrea Joyce, please refrain from asking the following questions, “Can you take us through the night? How did you feel?” “Did you ever expect this?” And don’t start trying to get people to talk junk about another. Oh, I also want some nice fluff pieces. And show ALL EIGHT finalists during EF.
- A Team and AA Final where the top 6 hit. I can dream.
- No scoring garbage please.
- Set the equipment right.
- Cheng Fei, please do well. I want you to have that vault gold very much.
- Shawn Johnson not to fall and make AA, BB, and FX finals.
- Chellsie Memmel to make the Olympic Team and maybe even bar finals. By the way, for the greatest written piece about Memmel’s story click here at Polish 101 who wrote a SUPERB piece on her.
- Anna Pavlova and Elena Zamolodchikova to make the team and vault finals.
- Daiane Dos Santos to come back to peak form and make FX finals. I would love it if she medaled.
- Vanessa Ferrari back in peak form. With her double-double.
- Yang Wei to win the AA. ( I like him. Sentimental fave. Don’t keep up as much with MAG, but this year will be exciting!)
- Dasha Joura to perform like never before.
- Oksana Chusovitina to win a vault medal.
That’s all I can think of right now.