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…