By Raaj Datta (NVONews.Com)
This is perhaps the worst example of the old Olympic rulebook where only two gymnasts from each team can move to the finals. Jordyn Weiber is currently the top-rated female gymnast in the world, but the day that was meant to be hers, saw better performance from her teammates which leaves her as a mere spectator during the finals.
The 17-year-old world champion from the USA made her way through the arena sobbing, and distressed enough that she couldn’t answer the reporters present. Weiber has lost just twice since 2009, and both times to Americans, but she has never finished behind two gymnasts in a competition, until this Sunday when she fell behind Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas.
Incidentally, in 2009 and 2010 Weiber had suffered a torn hamstring and an ankle injury. The injuries this time have nothing to do with the elimination, but the past few months have seen her teammates getting better and better. According to her teammates, Weiber is a strong gymnast and can overcome odds in a flash, and this time Weiber has two days to take things in her stride to move ahead.
Gymnasts are all daring and ambitious, proven by the gravity-defying moves that fetch them scores as per the difficulty level. High scores are guaranteed when the moves are executed to perfection. The difference between the best gymnasts in the world is very narrow. The slightest error in the form of a wobble or misalignment makes all the difference. That explains what could have gone wrong this Sunday for Wieber.
It is really difficult for any athlete to sustain excellence for a prolonged duration, especially in case of women’s gymnastics, which is a rather difficult sport.
The two gymnasts per country rule
Weiber wasn’t at her best at the event, but she clearly finished well ahead which should have been enough to let her compete. But then there’s this rule which lets only two gymnasts per team compete at the finals. Things were better until 2004 when three gymnasts per country and two per event were allowed into the finals.
The way Jordyn Wieber reacted after the results were declared is justified for the fact that she is the defending world champion, and had the earlier rule existed she would have clearly been to the all-around finals.
The new rule is said to be in place to increase level of competition among gymnasts. But allowing only two gymnasts from each country to go to the finals takes the talented ones out of the race quite prematurely.
Wieber was eliminated despite scoring better than five of the eight gymnasts in the next round. The ridiculous rule, as it turned out, punished the Americans for coming to the Olympics with too strong a team.
Whether the rule is changed or amended, for Weiber, things might not be the same – ever.