US triumph in spite of Marta, not because of her

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.

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11 responses to “US triumph in spite of Marta, not because of her

  • christina

    I don’t hate Marta or anything but I don’t like how she always get credit for every success since she’s not even the coach who workds with the girls every day. If for example Romania appeared out of nowhere and won team gold in 2012 Belu I’d understand why everyone would treat him like a mastermind, same goes to Alexandrov. Those men work with the girls every day while Marta only sees them once a month. For the great success of team USA in team finals I give credit first to the gymnasts who did a great job and then to the gymnasts’ personal coaches who prepared them for that.

  • dianegege

    Hi Stoi,

    Thank you for your response. It’s nice to know what is going on behind the scenes even if it makes me mad. Many years later from my gymnastics days, it seems that the gymnastics games still go on.

    And your name, Stoi, does that mean to stick it? (Landing without moving your feet, not something derogatory.) I’m really dating myself as that is what we called out when somebody was dismouting and event or landing a vault.

  • Stoi!

    Hi Diane

    The US selectors picked 7 gymnasts before travelling to Japan, and didn’t confirm which would be the alternate at that point. That’s usual. The athletes were Sacramone, Wieber, Douglas, Li, Maroney, Raisman and Vega. Everyone assumed Vega would be the alternate, since those 7 only have 3 decent bars routines between them. Also, Li would be a stupid choice for an alternate, as she’s a one eventer. She’d only be any use if the gymnast who went down was a bars gymnast. Which of course she wasn’t, as it turned out.

    Anyway, Geddert (Wieber’s coach) has since implied that actually Gabby Douglas was the alternate. Despite the fact that she’s the team’s most consistent and probably best bars worker, and bars was the US’s worst event. The announcement was made on I think Tuesday the 4th that actually Li would be the alternate. She had a stomach muscle injury. In which case, why bring her? Johnson would’ve been a much more sensible choice. However, Li was still able to train bars. There is footage of her hitting routines in training.

    Anyway, Sacramone got injured- an achilles tear, I think it was- before prelims. That left the US with only 6 healthy gymnasts. It also left them with sufficient time before prelims to replace Sacramone on the roster with Li. They didn’t. A lot of people are angry about this.

    The US, of course, were good enough to win with only 5 gymnasts. Nonetheless, there was no guarantee this would happen. And even so, an injured one eventer is still more use on the team than someone who isn’t even in the same country. Which Sacramone wasn’t by then- she went back to the US for surgery.

    There are all kinds of conspiracy theories going on about why Marta would be so stupid and cruel. Anna’s mum, Wu Jiani, has had a couple of run ins with Marta. But then why would Marta even choose Anna in the first place, if she has something against the family? It’s not like she was ever a lock for the team.

    C

  • Dianegege

    I have been out of the upper elite scene for many years. Would you mind sharing what you mean by the Anna Li situation. I have had a gut feeling that something like this was going on. When you suddenly can not produce what is expected of you, you are tossed aside like garbage. I supected this was happening but, it still tore my heart apart to hear this alluded to. Can you fill us in on more details of this. I also felt very sorry for her Mom as a coach. Maybe I have read this all wrong, if so, please accept my apologies.

  • Stoi!

    I’m a woman. If you have to ask, you don’t understand.
    C

  • TCO

    I thought you were a girl?

  • Stoi!

    Shana, you can always say shit in our comments section.

    Glad you both enjoyed the post. You might also enjoy Fuck You Marta, parts one and two.

  • LIsa

    At least some people are brave enough to write the truth. thanks

  • Shana Lieberman (@evilapprentice)

    THANK YOU. I’m so f-ing sick of how ridiculous gymnastics fans are.

    When Alicia went down, everyone wanted to slay Martha (as they should have), but then the team wins and suddenly they’re calling her a “mastermind” and wanting to give her credit for the team’s success. Uh. OOOOOOK.

    Those 5 girls were very prepared and very mentally tough (who knew?) because they were who they were. It has nothing to do with Martha being a “mastermind,” and she didn’t really even have to be a master at anything–other than breaking gymnasts–to pick those 5 girls to compete for the USA. The team picked itself when these were the only girls left standing. The end.

    I feel like there needs to be a whole post–maybe even a series of posts–about the Anna Li situation. Talk about treating a world class athlete like absolute shit. Can I say shit in your comments section? I guess we’ll see….

    …and people think this crone is somehow going to care during the selection process for 2012 that these girls did what they did at Worlds this year. LOLOLOLOL. When has Martha ever given people credit for being world champions? Holly Vise? NO. Ivana Hong and Shayla Worley last quad? NO. Shawn Johnson during the current selection process? Hm. NO. (Granted, Shawn wasn’t exactly the most ready in the world, but not even having her on hand in Japan in case of emergency was just f-ing stupid….and I’m not even a huge fan of Shawn.) Chellsie Memmel? NOPE. Again, injury issues, but let’s be honest here…It’s not like Martha has a history of giving a damn if someone’s injured…

    So yeah. LOL to anyone who thinks these 5 are in any way locks, or in any way going to keep anyone else out of the running, next year. Nope, they’re going to have to go to TEAM USA SURVIVOR 2012 just like everyone else. May the best gymnasts (hopefully) have 2 arms and 2 legs to stand on when it’s all said and done.

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