2013 worlds: The Bad

On a less optimistic note, this is the stuff that had us throwing our own faeces at the wall in distress.


1. Safety

In particular, the women’s vault final. It was obviously awful to see Chantysha Netteb being carried off injured- it’s always gutting, but it seems particularly upsetting and unfair when it happens to an athlete who may only have the one chance at the big stage. But in retrospect, it’s actually a great relief that she was the only one. Pena and Phan both threw actively dangerous vaults and risked serious injury doing so. Both of their coaches need their heads banging together.

That said, the Pena situation is at least partially the fault of the code. The handspring double front, rightly, is a very well rewarded vault. It’s extremely difficult, and although some argue it shouldn’t be in the WAG code at all, I disagree. We have already seen that a woman can do it brilliantly, and so the Produnova is and should be an option for other women.

However, although it’s very hard, it’s also not that difficult, in the grand scheme of things, to do it badly. You just need:

a) lots of power

b) a death wish

c) no better options

If, like Yamilet Pena and Fadwa Mohamed of Egypt, you possess all three of these, it’s actually kind of a no brainer. You just throw a running double front that makes momentary contact with the vault and bam, a berth in a worlds final could be yours.

For that to get 14.9, better than most DTYs, is just fucked up. Unless maybe they gave her a D score boost for the forward roll at the end. Which I could totes get on board with.

And this is why the code needs to be changed in order to disincentivize this approach. Because the current state of affairs isn’t working, and the proof is in the pudding. Or the Produnova, in this case.

2. Larisa Iordache

Love her, but this lack of consistency is starting to get wearing now. I could understand pissing away either her AA bronze or beam gold, but not both. Obviously in each case, Saint Aliya was the beneficiary, and that’s always ok. But it’s hard to dispute that it would have been better for the sport if we’d had a world beam champion with a bhs full as her acro series, instead of a front walkover. Even if it was one of the most hilarious moments since Boginskaya took the piss out of Kerri Strugg’s floor routine while she was still performing it.

So with that in mind, I’m going to give her one more year to get her shit together before despairing of her entirely. Are you up to the challenge, Larisa? Please don’t make me disown you. Your choreo and dance on floor was the tits.

3. Bars

We always knew that the post-Tweddle era was going to be tough. And so it was.

Aliya showed initial promise with that cool as balls Shap full, but didn’t quite live up to that in the final. So we ended up with another fucking foetus, and this one is boring. I don’t mind China cheating lavishly (and kudos to Marta Karolyi, for once, for her impressively catty estimate of Huang Huidan’s age. I suppose the bitch does have a redeeming feature after all).

The awesomeness, it burns.

But alas, this didn’t save the final. It was still a let down. I have nothing against Simone Biles, but you know there’s a problem when she ranks 4th in the world (and in fairness, she was lucky enough to make the final in the first place). Team GB brought it East Germany style in prelims, with awesome innovation, and for a time we dared to hope they might bring home a medal. But Downie reverted to type, and Ruby Harrold wantonly and deliberately wore a non Big 4 leotard in an EF, so she deserved the screwing she got. She was never going to get on the podium, but for her to score lower than Yao Jinnan with a fall was pretty fucking pathetic.


1. Russia’s entire squad more or less imploding prior to Antwerp. When you’re putting Nabieva and Rodionova on major teams, something just isn’t right. This is truly the most physically unhealthy team we’ve seen in a long time. Meningitis for Komova, a pinched nerve in Grishina’s back – both were hospitalized. Afanasyeva’s ankle surgery; though her ankles have always been dodgy, the timing is just plan inconvenient. Coulda/shoulda/woulda been FX World title #2. Paseka pulling out last-minute with back problems. And finally, the Rodionenko’s in general. Their mere presence puts a damper on the morale of the entire team.

2. Dead horse alert. But it has to be said. Aliya’s ever-deteriorating twisting form. It’s gone from crossed ankles to straight up overlapping limbs ever since the injury. She truly looks like an (albeit better-looking) upside-down Tanya Harding. Triple salchows and shit. At this point in the game, she’s losing more in execution than she’s gaining in difficulty. There’s very little to deduct from her dance, and the first/last passes. If she can manage to sneak the quad and triple Memmel turns around in the same routine, she can get away with 3 passes – saving our corneas from at least one of the middle eyesores.

3. Becky Downie continuing her never-ending pursuit for best head case ever.

I swear if she hit her otherwise marvellous bars routine under pressure, I’d shit rainbows and unicorns.

(Clara- I love how she’s basically waiting to fall. It’s like when Komova used to build in time to her beam set to wobble after the sheep jump).

24 responses to “2013 worlds: The Bad

  • Cee

    Dan, who the fuck are you to come onto someone else’s blog and whine about their language? There are literally hundreds of gymnastics blogs with all kinds of angles, with plenty suitable for the kiddies. This one isn’t. Go away and let the adults have a conversation.

    To all the defensive China apologists–get real. China has a PROVEN RECORD of this already–have we forgotten about Sydney so soon and how they threw poor Dong Fangxiao under the bus? (It infuriated me that the Chinese Federation put the blame on her, a starved kid in a totalitarian system. Completely classless. You knew exactly how old she was when you put her on the team.)

    You guys are great, keep it up! My one complaint is that you don’t post MORE–I love your sarcasm and opinions.

  • Stoi!

    Save your piss poor literary criticism for someone who cares, Dan. As for your ‘wotaboutdakidz’ entreaty, to save any confusion, you and all readers should be clear that we have never claimed to be suitable for under 18s. Parents/carers who fail to properly monitor their children’s internet usage are neither our problem nor our responsibility.

  • Dan Rollins

    I’m not really impressed with your low-class and unimaginative use of English in your article. Think about it…kids obsessed with gymnastics come here and THEY READ!!!

  • Stoi!

    However much you like the blog Catherine, if either the use of the word ‘fucking’ or exaggeration for dramatic effect bothers you then you have two choices: deal with it or don’t read it. My writing style and our stance on the widespread Chinese age faking are well known and will not be going anywhere, so it’s something you’ll encounter again if you intend to keep viewing. I don’t know if you were on the boards when all this came to light, but Bron and I were, and were witness to various posters attempting to suppress the issue, some of whom engaged in bullying in a (failed) attempt to silence people. For this reason, it is not something I will ever stfu about. It is not negotiable. I don’t mind some discussion on the issue, but be aware that I won’t be having this same conversation with you an unlimited number of times.

    As regards ongoing speculation, Louise said this better than I did. It is China’s own fault that any 1st or 2nd year senior now comes under suspicion, because they have added a year or two to so many of their athletes. They have asked for trouble. No doubt all the ill gotten medals will be sufficient consolation to any butthurtness they might feel.


  • Stoi!

    M, we dealt with Epke in ‘the good’. Our position on this has been made very clear! Actually, there are a number of positions I’d like to engage in with him.

  • Alia

    I am eagerly waiting for your eulogy to Nabieva! I miss old days with funny collages:D

  • Susie

    did Boginskaya really take the piss out of Kerri Strug’s floor routine? and is there video of it, I would love to see it

  • Stoi!

    Anonymous/Judith, let’s take your points one by one:

    – Kuzmina isn’t going to attract the same suspicion because she doesn’t come from a programme who are known to have been age faking over the past decade and a half. Like it or not, there is a difference.

    – Of course there is such a thing as copying a skill in a routine. However, when gymnasts do layouts on beam, it isn’t China they’re copying.

    – Alas, the (not small) leg separation in the Pak was far from the only form error on HHDs transitions. Nor did she fix her execution on almost every skill, and even if she had that would still leave her poor technique in her casts and pirouettes.

    – The two Russian bars workers at worlds have both invented an element. That’s innovation. This is not a matter of opinion.


  • Stoi!

    Catherine, no Huang Huidan does not look of age. Even if she actually is, which would be a charitable assumption to make given the recent behaviour of her programme and her appearance. If you find speculation about Chinese ages disappointing, this is not the blog for you. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.


    1. No, I don’t. It’s too early to call yet.

    2. I doubt Huang Huidan is 11, I think Marta was probably making a joke there. But like it or not, she has a great deal of experience with underage athletes being passed off as legal. And the suspicion that a youthful looking Chinese athlete is underage certainly has a great deal more basis than that, anyway. They’ve been doing it for years and the world knows. The cat is out of the bag. And no, Huang Huidan is not a genius. Being able to do hard shit at 11 doesn’t qualify an athlete for that accolade, I’m afraid. It just means they were trained with a view to peaking them young.

    3. No, Russia are not boring. They are the opposite of boring: innovative. Huang Huidan is boring because she does nothing innovative, and indeed her focus on relatively difficult transitions was copied from the Russians. Additionally, her routine wasn’t very nicely done either. The straddled casts were redolent of a Level 7, her form in her transitions was nasty, and she didn’t even have the usual saving grace of a Chinese baby because her pirouettes were crap. She was Miller-esque in her hand movements, and that is not a good thing.

    Hope that’s cleared it up for the both of you.

    • Anonymous

      Huang’s routine got inbars, pirouettes and hard transitions in combo. How is her routine boring, yet the Russian routines innovating with inbars and transitions in combo?
      Huang is not the cleanest UB worker in the world, but in that final she fixed her execution on almost every skill. I’d hardly call a small leg sep in the Pak nasty.
      There is no such thing as copying a skill in a routine. Do the other countries copy China as well when they do a bhs-bhs-layout on beam? Ofcourse not.

      Huang looks incredibly mature for her age (which is 17, mind you), I can’t imagine what you must think of Kuzmina next year. Oh but wait, she is Russian, she can’t be underaged.

  • XD

    1. You really think UB is Musty to lose this year? with breaking form here ad there?
    2. In your opinion, HHD is a genius and has a gifted body which can afford that hard skills for years since 9? you believed Marta’s biased suspicion before looking more HHD’s routines on youtube? if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go see her UB in 2009.
    3. Do you agree most of Russian bars routines are boring? if not, why is HHD’s boring? She can do Chinese hard piro and transition which most of Russian do. (I don’t think it’s hard bt., Or why can so many gymnasts from non powerhouse countries can do them?)

  • Catherine

    Huang Huidan suspected to be underage is hilarious. If you bothered to watch her 2009 National Games bars you’d know she could not possibly be the 7 year old or whatever you think she’d have been 4 years ago. She looks like a healthy 17 year old now, a deserving world champion.

    I’m fed up of this common theme that Chinese gymnasts are underage. Even the ones that look overage, it seems. It’s disappointing.

    • Louise Anderson

      It’s a common theme b/c the Chinese have made it one. It’s a stereotype to be sure, but stereotypes are generally based on common themes, whether it’s fair or not. Ie, Americans are powerful, Russians are artistic, Chinese have a tendency to not mind cheating on the age rule, Romanians are beam machines, etc. It’s not disappointing – it’s the common threads that are common b/c they’ve been proven. It’s not that there can’t be exceptions to the rule, obviously, or that they’re always true – it’s just a common rule of thought. You have your own bias in your blog – I’ve read it. You don’t need to get defensive. Stoi’s blog is much more blunt and refreshing and aimed at sarcastic humor. Of course she has her own bias, but so do you. Just enjoy the conversation or don’t read it.

    • Catherine

      To me there is a difference between speculation on gymnast’s ages and outright condemning one with no proof and calling her a ‘fucking foetus’. I realise the slant of this blog and I love it the rest of the time, but I’m allowed voice my thoughts on it regardless of how I write myself.

  • Worst Of Gymnastics 2013 — Gymnastics Coaching.com

    […] related – Stoi’s profane 2013 worlds: The Bad […]

  • sainabou nyang

    Perhaps with Larissa its because Belu is relying so much on her to bring in medals. I dont get why he ignores Didi. Euros TF next yearwill be very interesting. If Komova, Grishina, and Afan are not back at 100%, It wouldnt surprise me if Russia or Romania struggle next year.

    China will definitely have a tough 2014. Can they even scrap a team together for Nanning?

    2014 for the USA will be steady. Their incoming seniors will not be a highlight. I like Amelia but she looks ready for Florida and her routines imo are starting to look labored. Nica doesnt really contribute anywhere yet. She could be a bars/beam specialist maybe but she wont be surpassing Kyla. Polina has nice flexibility and toe point, but shitty execution and low difficulty. Im curious to see what upgrades she has for 2014.

  • M

    These are good. The thing with Iordache is that she has been constantly injured in 2013. So I am hoping for an injury free 2014 which will probably help her to do even better.

    Yeah Russia’s injuries were just…… They basically have 1 gymnast to rely on in 2013 and that was Aliya and they still won’t allow her to get some rest. I love Aliya but I agree with your comment on the twists, it has to go. They must can find something else for her to do.

    I know you don’t talk about the guys but Epke’s high difficulty and shit execution is annoying as hell to see.

    Also bad – not one apparatus where there wasn’t a fall in the Finals. Vault finals was splat fest – Bars as well, Beam – falls and floor – Sandra fell.

  • Alison Clements

    Oops, I should add that I’m talking about Pena and Mohamed here, not Netteb who vaulted a vault which was well within her capabilities, but was just horribly unlucky with her landing.

  • Alison Clements

    I was there, both for the qualifications and on finals day, and sitting in the vault section both sessions. From the faces of the vault judges, they looked as concerned as everybody about these two gymnasts. The ones I was watching looked green about the gills before they vaulted, and utterly relieved afterwards. I didn’t get the impression they liked having to reward these vaults either.

  • Stoi!

    I think when you witness something like that live, particularly when a gymnast has crashed, it’s very hard to stop yourself clapping when they get up and walk. Just because you’re glad they didn’t die yet. I experienced something similar when competing (I did tramp) and was at a competition where a girl screamed, something cracked on the metal and she hit the floor- I had my back to all this. Never have I been so relieved to see someone walk off of their own volition. It’s a visceral thing.

  • Alison Clements

    Perhaps (until the FIG does something about it) the regular audience attendees at live gymnastics need to have a policy of not applauding dangerously performed vaults such as those performed by Pena and Mohamed? A bit of public disapproval might shock both coach and gymnast into stopping and thinking.

  • emmasrandomthoughts

    I have to agree with you on Iordache. In fairness, she has been injured, so her numbers aren’t great, but even so, it is disappointing.

    Condolences on Team GB. Here’s hoping it works out for them in future worlds and Europeans.

  • H

    Thank you for a good and lol post:-)

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