Open Secrets Part 1 – GB Olympic lineups

A few things the gymternet already knew all about were confirmed this week. The first is that GB announced the Olympic teams.

WAG- Tweddle, Whelan, Tunney, Cairns, Pinches. Alternates- Francis, Downie, Rippen, Harrold.

MAG- Smith, Purvis, Thomas, Oldham, Whitlock. Alternates- Keatings, Panteleymonov, don’t know the others.

The decision was actually made and communicated to the athletes just after the British championships, around 9 days before it was made public. Which is fucking stupid. Even stupider than leaving Danusia out, and more on that later.

Stuff like this does not stay quiet. Ever.

Once the athletes are told, they’re going to tell people close to them. Family members and dear friends will get to hear about it. One of them is going to leak it. There’s no getting round that, and that’s why this team was public knowledge last week. It’s also why the American MAG team was known to the world 24 hours before the coaches intended- evidently they hadn’t learned from the British example a few days earlier.

We at Stoi! were aware of the news within hours, and as we are by no means insiders, we have no doubt that a substantial slice of our readership also knew. We reiterate- things like this do not stay hidden for long.

And now, let us attempt to convey our extreme displeasure.

Danusia Francis is a Stoi! favourite. She has everything we love. Style, fabulous dancing, lovely leaps, a Silivas mount on beam, large hair and a friendship with Viktoria Komova (not so sure about the cleavage zoom shot on her Twitter but eh, we were all 18 once). I myself have been aware of her since aroud 2006, as many British fans have. She is also one of only two remotely reliable beam workers GB have available.

Admittedly, she’s effectively a one eventer for TF purposes and didn’t help herself by falling at British championships two weeks ago.

Highly uncharacteristic, but when your selling point is consistency you really can’t fuck up at the final hurdle. This one fall shouldn’t have cancelled out all the hit routines this year and at worlds and Euros last year. But we could all see that it was going to.

Unfortunately for Danusia, nearly everyone else chose that day to have their top beam performance of the year. Sod’s law really, because normally the British need no inducement at all to fuck up beam. Cairns and Pinches both topped 14. Fair play to them, but those scores were as out of character as Danusia’s fall.

It feels rather hard to justify either selection. Cairns is a veteran, a fighter and has a great record for peaking when it counts. But she appears to be on the team for VT/BB. Which is bizarre when she only has a Yurchenko 1.5, GB are sitting out several DTYs, and she’s just as capable of delivering a 12 as a 14 on beam (and indeed did both at the British Championships).

As for Pinches, she has huge potential but hasn’t lived up to it as a senior, despite having been given chance after chance. She fucks up too much. True she has a DTY now, but it’s not all that. Harrold, Tunney, Rippen and Downie all have better ones.

Yes, she had an excellent showing at the British championships and is peaking at the right time. But one swallow does not make a summer, and that prelims beam rotation is going to be terrifying.

Presumably, the lineups would be as follows:

VT- Tunney, Pinches, Cairns. Whelan prelims (two DTYs and a good 1.5, solid)

UB- Whelan, Tunney, Tweddle. Pinches prelims (a low 14, mid 14 and high 15- good but not an optimum use of GB talent on the event)

BB- Pinches, Cairns, Whelan. Tunney prelims (horrifying)

FX- Tunney, Whelan, Tweddle. Cairns prelims (potentially 3 mid 14 routines and lots of strength in depth, a good roster)

As luck would have it, GB start on beam in prelims. As Tweddle no longer trains the event, the lineup is going to have to comprise of Tunney (remember Scam?) Cairns, Pinches and Whelan. This is not good. The first three are fantastically inconsistent, and even Whelan isn’t immune from the odd fall. She certainly won’t be able to rescue the rotation all by herself if the other three arse it up.

While GB are a good team, and have every chance of finishing 5th and topping the ‘second division’ table ie those teams who aren’t in medal contention, they are also not guaranteed a TFs spot. It would only take a poor start to take them out of contention entirely. With this in mind, it’s fucking ludicrous to turn up with only one usable beam worker. Yes, GB only have two, but still there is such a thing as damage limitation.

Personally, I’d have had the three locks plus Downie and Francis. I am not a massive Tunney fan, but she’s undroppable. Like so:

VT- Downie, Tunney, Whelan (two DTYs and a Yurchenko 1.5, not bad)

UB- Tweddle, Downie, Tunney (very good, capable of being the 2nd or 3rd best bars lineup of any team, if they all hit of course)

BB- Whelan, Francis, Downie (as strong as GB could muster. Downie falls all over the place, but no more so than everyone except Whelan and Francis).

FX- Tweddle, Whelan, Tunney, or Francis if Tweddle’s knee doesn’t permit (three mid 14 scores are a possibility- none too shabby).

Nothing against either Cairns or Pinches, but this looks like a better team. It’s also more interesting- Downie’s new bars set and Danusia’s beam are two of GB’s most interesting routines. While it lacks strength in depth on floor and is a smidgen behind the chosen team on vault, it’s much better on beam and bars.

Perhaps the selectors know something I don’t, but then it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve made silly and frankly unjustifiable decisions. With that in mind, it might be worth mentioning that British alternates have a habit of ending up competing, and there are frequent shenanigans between selection and competition time. So perhaps I might get my wish after all…

By Clara

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14 responses to “Open Secrets Part 1 – GB Olympic lineups

  • Catherine

    I could see Cairns beating Downie for the spot since Downie is struggling a bit after injury. Sad though, if she was at full strength I would have picked her. Very sad to see her so despondent on Twitter (and Danusia and Dan). If Danusia had a stronger floor I would have picked her, but that and messing up beam did it for her. Devastated, as I LOVE her, who doesn’t? That photo of her holding Vika sums her up perfectly. I can’t wait to see her at UCLA. Dan probably makes the least sense- he had a great comp at Nationals! He seems flummoxed, and no wonder. Poor guy. I really hope all of them that are dissapointed make it to the next quad.

  • M

    Lol, again great post. You both know how to get a chuckle out of people.

    I don’t follow GB but I know one of you are from there, so I am going to say sorry it isn’t the team you had hoped for. However, reading this, it does seem strange to really only have one consistent beam worker on the team. They are taking a lot of chance by doing that, especially since when I watched European championships 2010, they had mentioned beam was GB’s worst event. I knew of Downie from EC 2010 as well, so I am sorry to not see her on the team.

    BTW where can I go to see what groups countries are in for Olympic prelims and what apparatus they start on?

  • julie

    Agree with everything said…let’s face it their only realistic medal prospect is Beth on bars, the rest is just doing the best they can. They could have had Danusia looking fabulous, introducing a bit of class, elegance and diversity into the team , and Becky D bringing some powerful gymnastics in …instead of overscored at British Nationals headcase Jenny Pinches and Imogen. They have no chance of medaling so they might as well look fucking good coming 5th, 6th or 8th or wherever, instead of looking like a load of fugly can’t dance, can’t stay on the beam, headcases.

  • Pedro

    I am also a huge fan of Danusia, so sad she didn’t make it. The team would be much better without Cairns and Pinches and with Francis and Rippon. Just my opinion.

  • Christiane

    Okay, I am glad to see that some of us here are interested in details about the GB team. Nothing wrong with that. Except if we haven’t discussed yet the final day of the US Olympic trials! 😉 Will we? So much to say… Nastia’s fall, Rebecca’s falls, and the confirmation of the US team (Do they really have a chance for a gold medal?) But I won’t push you ladies. I will sit here and wait. 😉

  • crasterkipperer

    Shame – I was looking forward to seeing Danusia competing and adding extra sparkle to the team.

  • Julia

    I was not shocked to see Pinches, but Cairns over Rippeh and Downie was a surprise for me.

  • Stoi!

    Ah, that’s one explanation A. Thanks for your thoughts. Perhaps only the team selection is stupid then, rather than the method of revealing also.
    C

  • A

    I expect the reason for the delay in announcing the team was so that the BOA weren’t put in the embarrassing situation of having to re-jig the line-up if there were a successful appeal. From what I gather, the athletes were told last Monday and had until the following Wednesday to lodge a complaint. That gave the BOA a week to sort out any potential disputes before the chosen were up before the national press.

    After the RG debacle British Gymnastics had proven they can’t be trusted to keep their own house in order, so the BOA were wise to take the precaution.

  • Gym fan

    Downie not on the team is just dumb as fck…..she would give them at least another full point between her DTY, better bars and potentially better beam. Her beam is coming together and she’s more likely to stick than pinches.

    Pinches and Cairns????SERIOUSLY!!!

    Hell, even Rippon and Harrold have more to offer with DTY’s, Rippon’s floor and Harrold’s Bars…..

    Again, PINCHES and CAIRNS????

    They’ve seriously gone from being an exciting prospect, to a no chance.

    Fckwads who picked the team need a slap!

  • kirsty

    Agree with everything said so far, I’m really disappointed by this team. If you have an olympics in your own backyard and have the chance to have a best every finish for your country in a team final then go all out and take the riskier players like Downie. I feel like the selectors have tried to go with a “safe” option which is a bit daft really as GB have next to no safe options on beam, and its really affected them on other events such as bars and vault where they could have been quite strong.

  • Lisa-Marie

    Thank you I enjoyed reading that, its so hard to find well written pieces on the British girls. I completely agree with everything you say, I couldn’t believe when I saw Pinches and Cairns on the team, especially Cairns! I just get the feeling they are throwing away the already slim chance they had of a good placing in their own turf! My feelings of excitement have turned a bit flat now, I am hoping your little premonition regarding the alternates might come true!

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