This one has taken quite a while to finalise. In our defence, I’m moving house and Bronwyn has just got engaged (and no, not to Ksenia Afanasyeva). She’s probably going all bridezilla and shit as we speak. A tenner says she waltzes down the aisle in a CCCP jacket.
1. Mother Russia
On the one hand, they won more medals than any other country and got what looked not long ago like a fairly optimistic team silver. On the other hand, it could’ve been so much more. They had the talent to win not just the team title, but nearly everything. Hell, a three woman team of Komova, Mustafina and Grishina should really have finished closer to the US than the five athlete lineup actually did.
Silver isn’t necessarily an underachievement in itself: the US and Russia were pretty evenly matched on paper, so it was possible that either team could go 12 for 12 and still just miss out. But regardless of the team result, all five of them ought to have been going home with individual hardware too- we wouldn’t have said that of Paseka beforehand, but the girl has big match temperament if nothing else.
(and Prod knows, the ‘else’ certainly didn’t include a fully rotated Amanar).
So it basically depends on whether one takes a long term or short term approach. In the long term, they had the talent to dominate. In the short term, they did very well considering the injuries to key players and the strength of the US team. We still haven’t been able to work out which school of thought we subscribe to. Perhaps our readers can help us decide.
The same, to some extent, is true of Romania. Viewed from the perspective of October 2011, their London looks like a success- though Stoi! pointed out at the time that the medal-free worlds was a blip and they were leading contenders for team bronze. Viewed from the perspective of this year’s Euros, not so much.
Lots of this, of course, is down to Iordache. If we assume that, when healthy, she could’ve scored about 15 on vault (more if she’d thrown the Amanar) 14.3 on bars, 15.5 on beam and 15.3 on floor, clearly she had the potential to take floor and beam titles, as well as an AA medal. And if she’d had the Amanar, they could even have pipped Russia for team silver. These are all medals that the Romanians missed out on because of her injury. We were accused of being on the Iordache crack, but the fact is that her having underachieved due to injury doesn’t in any way shape or form mean she wasn’t a massive threat before the plasciar fantitis kicked in. Yeah, she might have fucked up anyway, but nothing we’ve seen from her so far this year suggests that was particularly likely.
However, it wasn’t all down to Iordache’s injury. Izbasa and Ponor both threw away a medal each. Stoi! is a big fan of both, and is extremely impressed by the comebacks. Both had everything to lose and nothing to prove, and Romania couldn’t have hoped for a team medal without them, despite China’s wretchedness. Each threw some damn impressive moves for any gymnast, let alone ones on the wrong side of five feet and twety years.
Cata was certainly unlucky on beam, and ought to have had bronze. The fact that she didn’t is no fault of hers, but the fact that she wobbled herself out of gold or silver is. Arguably she was also unwise to throw the back somie after the full in on floor, immensely impressive though it was to even see her try it:
We’ve seen it suggested that the back somie is what cost her the gold. It’s true that there were more than 0.4 of deductions there, but we tend to think Raisman was getting the title no matter what, after that unjustifiable 15.6. And given Cata’s fairly high E score, we don’t think all of them were taken.
Ponor was the rightful winner, though, and any silly cunt who wants to tell us otherwise needs to ensure they’ve read the artistry deductions in the COP first.
Izbasa also threw away a floor medal, probably silver. Certainly she overachieved on vault, and with Iordache injured it was by no means guaranteed that Romania would be going home with a gold. She spared their blushes once again. Arguably, winning one gold is better than two silvers, which is what she was probably expected to get. But the unexpected vault gold doesn’t cancel out the floor fall.
There are always two schools of thought as to whether a second place finisher has won the silver or lost the gold. Vika herself clearly sees it as the latter. It must have been a real choker to miss out on the AA title again: in 2011 she gets outright robbed, then she misses out on a 50/50 next time round. We mean no disparagement to Douglas, who we love, but it could have gone either way and in fact the reference panel had Komova ahead.
So we have no criticism of her performance in the AA or indeed team finals. Sure, she wasn’t totally perfect in either, but she was bloody good. Yes, if she’d landed her Amanar better she’d have won the big one, but the fact that she was throwing one at all after spending several months injured out is just as significant. And the levels of fightback and nerve she showed on beam and floor, well it was like watching Mustafina.
However, EFs were a different story entirely. They were as bad as the first three rounds were good. Vika was easily capable of winning two golds, and bars is particularly disappointing given that she only really had to hit normally whereas she’d have needed one of her best ever showings on beam.
Unfortunately, she decided to go back to Old Komova. She had every chance of bagging herself one or even two delicious consolation prizes. To not come away with even a medal on either event, particularly given that Tweddle on bars and the Romanians on beam left her plenty of room, is inexcusable.
4. Jordyn Wieber
She walks away an Olympic gold medallist and gave a superb performance in securing it. But Jordyn is surely also going to be remembered as the first reigning world AA champion since fuck knows when (ever?) to miss out on the Olympic final. As with Komova, a lot depends on how you look at it but she herself clearly sees her Olympics as a disappointment.
Now, it isn’t entirely Jordyn’s fault that she missed out on the AA final. She ought to have qualified ahead of Raisman, who as usual was held up on beam and floor. And had she made it, she’d probably have won the bronze ahead of Mustafina, given the latter’s fall.
There is, of course, a certain level of irony in Wieber being undone by a correctly uncredited beam connection when she won an undeserved world title thanks to the opposite. It was hard not to feel sorry for her though, although that fucking idiot coach of hers did his best to stand in the way of any sympathy anyone felt like giving her. And, as we pointed out at the time, a 60+ AA score for a programme including an OOB, multiple missed connections on beam and a bars routine with no swing is not ungenerous.
It’s unfortunate for Jordyn that her beam routine wasn’t better designed, though. There’s no way the fhs ‘sequence’ could possibly deserve credit.
And her coach ought to have foreseen this, instead of bitching about conspiracy theories. Jordyn should not have been going into the Olympics with a big fuckoff target on her back, which is what that beam set amounted to.
Still though, she’d been gifted internationally with connections in the past, not just in the US. So one can perhaps understand why they thought she’d get away with it. Nonetheless, you just can’t make those assumptions, and the result is an Olympic AA bronze thrown away. Not that Stoi! is complaining. We’d rather Mustafina won it anyway.
5. McKayla Maroney
Now, the girl’s made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear following her vault EF tantrum. Fair play to her for that, and Stoi! are not in the business of judging highly strung teenagers for throwing the odd strop when their dreams turn to dust, be they Russian or American. We wish we could say the same for everyone on the gymternet.
Her ‘not impressed’ pose probably made her more famous than a vault gold would have done. I’d embed the Obama photo here, if wordpress hadn’t gone and changed everything on me and rendered me unable to do so.
And it makes total sense for her to exploit her ‘niche’. Having gone pro, she needs to squeeze every last drop of fame and fortune she can, while she still can. The ‘not impressed’ face is already getting a bit old, and you’re a long time retired. So she’s doing the right thing.
It’s just, well, still a bit of a shame. She’s so utterly brilliant. We can’t help wishing that McKayla was going to be remembered as the greatest Olympic vault champion in history, rather than as someone who pulled a face. Even if the way things turned out has its advantages.