The biggest Olympic letdown since Zmeskal, alas. We desperately hope this one gets the coaching she needs, because she’s an immense talent who, on her day, could’ve been a contender for just about everything. At a minimum, she ought to have been delivering killer performances on 3 events in TFs- though we do support her decision to refuse to do beam. Prod only knows how badly that would’ve gone. If nothing else, she ought to have been good for a 15 on bars. It is unfathomable that she couldn’t achieve even that.
And yet even following her disastrous Olympics, she could be the 2013 world AA champion, if properly coached and managed. The talent is there. The recent shenanigans at Round Lake leave us in no doubt that this won’t happen. Her coach appears more interested in slagging off Alexandrov and Mustafina than doing anything useful. We don’t know how he has the cheek to lift his head above the parapet after this utter shitshow. A shame and a waste. Poor Nastia.
As it turned out, they’d have been better off taking our girl Nabz instead. It’s a sad day when you can say that about someone. We’re left scratching our heads and asking when the fuck a roundoff became something that the world’s top gymnasts fuck up during major team finals.
I mean, I can probably still do one even now, though it doubtless isn’t advisable ten weeks post partum with several pounds of baby weight still to shift. But still.
2. Team China
They gave the dreadful TF performance they’ve been threatening all quad, and frankly their 4th place finish had more than a touch of schadenfraude. Post Beijing they’ve been dull and underachieving, and they’ve screwed over their very few exciting gymnasts. We like to believe this wouldn’t have happened on our Wu Lu’s watch.
He Kexin did, admittedly, do better than we expected, and her laboured marathon was overscored all the way to silver. Blech. It may be worth noting that the judges initially, and correctly, had Tweddle ahead of her. It took the reference panel to step in to put He Kexin ahead.
And of course they did manage an Olympic 1-2 on beam: of all the lovely pairs they could’ve done that with, it had to be the class of 2012. Still, at least it wasn’t Sui Lu who won it. And we all enjoyed working out whether hers or Maroney’s strop was more entertaining. That’s something.
3. Youna Dufournet
Another letdown, and we’d been really looking forward to seeing her bars routine in finals.
4. Men’s team finals
Prelims had promised so much. Rather than treating us to their usual snorefest, the Chinese had thrillingly collapsed, and there were a number of attractive teams in the running for medals. Instead, we ended up with the same old same old on top of the podium and the highly embarrassing and unsavoury spectacle of the judges hashing over what constitutes a handstand for 2o minutes.
Stoi! quite frankly do not know enough about MAG to ascertain whether Uchimura did indeed hit handstand as he fell off pommels. But what we do know is that the issue should have been settled before his score was posted and the Ukrainians and Brits celebrated. Not after.
5. Larisa Iordache
Poor injured munchkin. Promised so much, and walked away with so little. Don’t get us wrong, a team bronze is impressive in the circumstances and she did as much as anyone to secure it. It’s just that she could’ve been one of the stars of the Games.
6. WAG vault final
A total splatfest, with the de rigeur wrongly credited, medal impacting short Amanar to boot. Not the most auspicious way to start the EFs. The only saving grace was that Yamilet Pena once again managed not to kill herself, which is always a relief.
Now it isn’t that we don’t like Izbasa. We do. If she’d won floor again, we’d have been celebrating. And she’s a good vaulter, very good. It’s just that we were supposed to have the greatest champion in the history of the sport. With all due respect to Sandy, she isn’t it. She would have been a fitting silver medallist, and frankly that’s probably what she was aiming for, but not quite gold.
These vaults were very good, but they weren’t great. And we could have had great.
You may say I’m just sore because I had a fiver on Maroney to win, and perhaps that’s true. But there’s more to it than that. I say this as someone who also won money when Raisman took floor gold, but has pilloried the judging that allowed this to happen.
Until London, we were on a pretty good run of excellent Olympic vault champions- you really have to go all the way back to Szabo to find one who was any less than all that. (Hong Un Jong comes in for some criticism, but landing a fully rotated and reasonably neat Cheng and Amanar automatically means you’re the shit). Had Sandra thrown the Cheng, she might belong in that company, not least because she’s five foot five, for fuck’s sake. But she didn’t. Not that we blame her, it would’ve been utter stupidity to take that risk. And she wasn’t the weakest champion of the Olympics, not by a long way. The blame for this doesn’t in any way rest with her.
So ultimately, we’re just left sad that it was Romania who won vault and the US floor. We’d all have been loads better off if it had been the other way round.
And Mother Russia need to stop complaining about Paseka’s bronze, too. She had no business on that podium- not for the bullshit reasons Berger was coming out with (and she too would have been a disgusting, if deserving bronze medallist) but because that Amanar was in no way shape or form rotated. There are times when it is better to keep silent.
7. WAG beam final
Here was us thinking the event couldn’t possibly sink any lower than it did in the 2011 EF. We were wrong. Deng Linlin and Sui Lu are boring, and the only thing worse than Raisman medalling on floor is her medalling on beam. I mean, at least she excels in one aspect of the floor exercise. It’s possible to just watch her first two tumbles on repeat and on mute, and have an extremely enjoyable viewing experience. The same cannot be said of a single thing from her beam exercise.
The memories are hazy, but I seem to recall thinking she’d been credited for the switch half again. That was unjustifiable in Tokyo, and remains so now. One can’t argue with the gold and silver medallists, of course, but one can reflect with sadness on how many attractive beam workers had to fuck up to allow them a 1-2. Ponor, Iordache, Komova, Grishina, Afanasyeva, even Kyla Ross would all have been preferable and plausible podium finishers. There are no videos or photos to illustrate my point here because, like the 1993 world EF, I prefer to pretend it didn’t happen.