There was a Romanian TV special on the gymnasts a couple of weeks ago. So it’s a bit out of date now, but whatever, Bronwyn and I have both been on holiday, and I’ve been busy picking all my peeling sunburn off my head.
I couldn’t be fucked watching the whole thing, and nor should you. But the interesting part is how good Ponor is looking.
Stoi! recently covered her return to the National Training Centre. But at the time, all that we’d seen of her comeback was a few drills. Now, we can see how strong she’s looking on beam.
Her comeback is obviously great news for Romania, given how useful she can be. She was one of the best beamers of the past decade, and the most consistent I think the sport’s ever seen. The only footage of her falling was during some irrelevance of an exhibition back in 2003.
I laughed when people who hated her pretended they thought that was the most hilarious thing ever. Their protestations smacked of desparation.
And her Yurchenko 1.5 was utterly stunning at its best.
Certainly, she couldn’t always be arsed to straighten her legs during it.
But then Stoi! has pointed out til it is blue in the face that good vaulting is about more than straight legs. Dynamics matter too, and Cata knew how to pull out a fucking mahousive vault.
It’s true that Romania have some more difficult vaults, and that the Yurchenko 1.5 has been downgraded since she last competed it- it’s now at 5.3 rather than 5.5. But I still think she could make a contribution. She got a 9.5 execution score for the Stuttgart TFs vault. If she were to get that now, she’d have 14.8. That would’ve been higher than all but one of the Romanian vaulters in Rotterdam.
On the one hand, there is potential to take higher deductions now than there was in 2007. But on the other hand, Rotterdam was a fucking giveaway, in a way that Stuttgart wasn’t. So I don’t think it’s unrealistic to suppose that Ponor could also be usable for Romania on vault, despite the relative lack of difficulty.
It’s always more risky to rely on D score rather than E to differentiate yourself from the pack. Judges have a lot more leeway with execution than difficulty scores, most of the time. And examples abound of gymnasts with higher difficulty being more leniently judged, by the execution panel, than those with lower difficulty. 2010 world floor final, for example. But Ponor is a triple Olympic gold medallist. If she can’t take the risk, who can?
So this definitely mixes things up: no bad thing for Romania when you consider how rough poor Ana Porgras looked in Berlin. And they’ve withdrawn from yet another world cup late in the day. Not always a good sign. A world beater coming back would be very welcome. Only thing is, this makes the competition for the two non-bars competitors in 2012 even more fierce.