Just so we’re all clear on that. She’s the one on the right doing the strangling, for those who don’t know already.
Marta Karolyi has been the National Team Co-ordinator for the US since 2001, or was it late 2000, and this has coincided with a period of great success for the US. In that time they have won 8 major team medals (out of 8 possible) 3 of which were gold. They have also won 5 major AA titles, and more individual titles and medals than I can be arsed to count. So this old cow gets seem as a success. She has not been. My grandma could’ve got medal winning teams out of the talent she’s had available. And I mean the one who died in 1981, not the living one. She is not the reason why the US have had so much success in the past decade. She has just been lucky enough to be there at the time.
There are four main factors in this decade of glory:
1. Huge depth of talent.
The US has the deepest pool in the world. Now, and from 2002-4, they could easily have sent two strong teams. You could get a world medal contending team just from the athletes she broke in the last two months- Bross, Memmel, Caquatto, Sacramone and Li could definitely have scraped bronze, if uninjured of course. It wasn’t as deep in 2005-9, but even then they were able to leave healthy potential medallists at home (DiLuzio in 05, Hunter in 09 etc). This is nothing to do with Marta, and has everything to do with the popularity of the sport, the relatively large population in the US, and last but not least the hard work and talent of the athletes.
2. Centralised system
Clearly this is a necessity under 6-3-3. But that doesn’t mean it has to involve either of the Karolyis.
3. Migration of coaching talent to the US
This has been happening for a while, but we’ve really seen the fruits of it in the past decade or so. The US is now the place to be for the globe’s coaching talent. The programme has benefitted enormously from Eastern Bloc trained coaches and athletes in particular. This gives the US access to their talent, but also serves as competition for American born coaches, causing them to raise their game. Marta is of course one of those who has migrated. But only one. Marchenko, Liukin, Bieger, Fong, Hatch, Akopyan, Ungunearu, Wu Jiani, Chow- these are all foreign born and trained coaches who’ve had success in the past decade.
4. Rest of the world being weaker in comparison
I mean no disrespect to anyone else, but the other major gymnastics powers have all either declined or been patchy, post 2000. So the US look better in comparison. The gymnasts they’ve had this decade aren’t particularly better than those who went before, but they’re better relative to the rest of the world. China were off from 01-05 and appear to be having a bit of a wobble at the moment: not a great surprise given that they appear to have faked the DOB of anyone they thought might have been useful for Beijing and then burned them out, thus leaving themselves with minimal talent for this quad. Romania are no doubt planning something, but they’ve not been the same since 2004, and have had trouble adjusting to a code that might as well have been written to fuck them over. And we all know how patchy Mother Russia have been.
So, let’s not attribute any credit to Marta for the US’s justified and convincing victory yesterday. She doesn’t deserve any.
She broke shitloads of contenders, as usual, showing a cavalier attitude she could only get away with because she has so many talented gymnasts to work with. Say whatever else you want about Belu and Bitang, they don’t pull that shit- they can’t. She presided over yet more overtraining and a selection system that left her without sufficient bodies, again. It’s only her good luck that the five gymnasts she’d left standing were good enough to win so convincingly, and says as much about the lack of competition as anything else. The way she treated Anna Li is heartless, and again, it’s just her luck that it didn’t bite her in the arse. Perhaps if she hadn’t presided over Larson being starved and overtrained in 2010 (look at her at Nationals, then again at worlds- clear weight loss) this might be a back to back title celebration. No doubt she’ll continue blaming Mattie for the whole thing last year, rather than considering her own role.
So in summary, congratulations to Jordyn, Aly, McKayla, Gabby, Sabrina, Anna and Alicia. And Marta, you can suck my balls.