Compiling yesterday’s post reminded me that I’ve not got over the 1993 world beam final yet. It still beggars belief that, in a worlds with so many exceptional beamers in attendance, we ended up with a Milosovici-Dawes-Gogean podium. Uncool.
This shouldn’t be taken as a criticism as any of them. I like all three, on their good events. Beam does not come into that equation, for any of them. And please, nobody cite the beam medal tally for any of them as evidence of anything other than the mental fragility of their competitors. Dawes had the skills but her knees were far too much of a distraction and made everything look messy. Milosovici and Gogean also had the skills, particularly Gogean, but chose not to use them most of the time.
So this is actually a gentle rebuff to the half dozen gymnasts in Birmingham who were better than all three of them, but failed to bring it.
First up, Tatiana Lysenko. The reigning Olympic champion didn’t even make the final because of falling in prelims. But her AA routine illustrated that she had the quality to medal anyway:
9.712, not bad considering she did beam in the first rotation. Stoi! is adding a discretionary bonus tenth for the bigness of the hair. She got screwed out of the AA title in 93, as it happens, but that’s another post entirely.
Miller also failed in her duty, although to be fair to her she had a bad stomach only the day before, so we’ll let her off. Let’s feast our eyes on her fantastic prelims routine.
Still with most of her lovely 91-92 choreography, and also amazing difficulty: 2 proper acro lines back when a whip was unusual and a piked full-in to dismount. Piked! Miller did get some completely laughable overscores that week, but this wasn’t one of them. She would’ve been a fitting world beam champion, but fell three times in the final.
The one that really pisses me off is Li Li. She did this in the AA. Brilliant. My 8 year old self marvelled at the backspin and the idea of doing acro across the beam. It seemed like the most innovative routine imaginable.
Then she wobbled all over the place in the final and went over time too. I’m not posting the video because it is dead to me. If she could’ve confined herself to just the wobbles or the overtime, they’d no doubt still have found a way to bung her the bronze- that score is high, considering how many mistakes she made. But no.
I guess we just have to understand that she was a 90s Chinese gymnast and they only hit when the planets were in the right alignment. It wasn’t and still isn’t easy being a fan of any of them. Just when you’d feel ready to stop rooting for them entirely, they’d throw out something unbelievable that hooked you right back in again. It stopped us getting spoiled, at least. We should remember that we can never take an artist, and Li Li was an artist, for granted. In this case, I can only assume the skimpy leotard was so tight that it cut off the circulation to her brain.
Fabrichnova wasn’s short on the difficulty either. She too fucked up in finals, but here is her AA set for which she received a creditable 9.75. That would’ve given her silver in the final:
Ludmilla Prince had a soaring two footed layout and an exciting handstand pirouette combination, but she too was wobbly. However I still feel she was more harshly treated than other more renowned athletes who made beam errors that week- exhibit A, Miller in the all-around. Anyway, Ludmilla performed the best parts of her routine flawlessly here, so let’s focus on them and ignore the wobbles:
And He Xuemi also let us down:
She qualified second behind Miller and competed after Miller had already taken herself out of the running, so I suppose the squandering of the opportunity was searingly inevitable.
Vandisheva was also amazing on beam in 1993, but I’m not sure if she even made the Russian world team. Here she is training:
It’s no exaggeration to say that every non-medallist from that final had a more attractive routine than any of the eventual medallists, even with the mistakes, and the same is true of some athletes who didn’t even make the final. In addition to those highlighted, it’s also worth checking out Galieva, Linlin Ye and Grudneva that year. They were all quality beamers who weren’t in the final.
I’m not saying the top 3 didn’t deserve to be top 3, because they hit when nobody else did. But it’s just so depressing to see that, in a year when the beam field was so deep and had so many athletes doing interesting work, we ended up with this podium.
So, with all this in mind, I move to strike the 1993 beam final from the record. It was disappointing, frustrating and boring, and all three medallists won plenty of other baubles during their long and illustrious careers anyway. None of them will miss this one.
Anyone with me?