BY | July 30, 2012

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.

The Bottomline
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.

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  • Julian

    I find the whole thing a huge travesty. First and foremost, I stand for the fact that Gaby’s mistake on floor was larger than all 3 of the so-called ‘errors’ that Jordyn exhibited and feel she was highly underscored throughout. 2nd, this still only put Jordyn 4th, meaning Jordyn’s score was still higher, overall, than at least half a dozen other countries’ 1st and 2nd, within the last 24hrs. If that isn’t enough, the fact that she’s not received first only twice since 2008 and is the current reigning world champsion, should stand for something as a cherry on top. I’d feel the same way if it was a competitor with those same stats from Chine, Russia, what have you. The biggest difference is that no other competitor can claim any of this who ended up taken third prior to last night. Everyone knows Jordyn has every ability to completely dominate if she was let in. Instead, those that are not even the best are competing. There should be a wild card option for at least 2 countries to send in their third as long as that third’s score is within the top 25% of the final all around prelim scores. This is just sad and my heart goes out to her and her family for having to deal with such a poor rule, that while it has been in place for some time, this is the first time, as I said, we’ve had to watch such a dominant and time proven athlete be kicked to the curb.

  • Bdotgdot

    Rules are rules. Gabby and Aly earned their keep despite the dumb rule. Jordyn didn’t and that’s unfortunate. But this outcry of injustice is only happening because the Americans fell victim to the rule. Where was this before the games began, when the rule was put into place?

  • hgield

    Rules are rules. Nobody would say anything if Gabby had been the one who placed 3rd. Wieber didn’t perform to the best of her abilities. I feel bad for Jordyn, but she needs to move forward and see that there are opportunities (individuals, team medals).

  • kai jones

    I agree rules are rules. These rules were set in place prior to Olympics. If there were objections they should have been addressed prior to start of Olympics. If anyone other than Jordyn was in 3rd place would we have this outcry

  • Lucyjune

    I agree with all the above. Question . Was this limiting rule addressed before? That would have been the appropriate time for outcry.. Now is too late and that is the very sad truth.

  • Phil Raymond

    Its a farcical rule although to be fair, it’s not just gymnastics where this happens. GBs dominance in Bejing resulted in the ICU declaring nations could only enter one athlete into the qualifying section of each event. Imagine the outcry if the IAAF told Jamaica they could only take Bolt, Blake or Powell!?

  • http://BBC diego

    Jordan Weiber is the most overrated gymnast ever. Her team mates are improving at a faster rate than she is and it unfortunately happened around the Olympics. No one sai gymnastics at first and she was beaten by two better gymnasts on the day and now she has to deal with it ! Gymnastics is full of heartbreak the russian, chinese and everyone go through it now its her turn.

    Having said that I have never seen her perform cleanly on all aparatus and win. She always errors on bars and wins as a consequence of other gymnasts making major errors. If you compare her score to lets say Komova, when they have both performed without errors she still doesnt match up. Shes been overscored so may times like the biased American Cup in 2010.

    However, I do beleive in the World Championships, the winner of the All Around and each individual apparatus in the yr of the Olympics should be guaranteed a spot in the Olypmpic equivalents regardless of the country rule.

    Im also of the opinion that the country limit rule is absurd. If your in the top 24 you should go through, this rule basically robs the dreams of so many who have trained for years for the opportunity, there should be no country limit, if you good enough your good enough and to balance it out, countries not represented in the top 24 should be able to send one or 2 into the all aaeround finals based on previous world championship performaces. Then everyone gets a shot.

    So what it may add an extra hr to the length of competition but that much better than stealing somones dreams for the sake of limiting a countries exposure.

    Quite simply if youve trained hard all your life and managed to get to the level that you qualify as one of the best gymnasts in the world then who has the right to take your shot at gold away ?