Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I am obviously NOT an expert on gymnastics, but I have to agree with the American Olympic commentators in stating that the judging in these Beijing Olympics is definitely "off," to say the least. (I'm not even deigning to mention the underage Chinese gymnasts, right?) The bizarre tie-break on the uneven parallel bars that somehow placed Nastia Liukin in second place with a silver medal when the other gymnast, with the same start value, made definite mistakes seemed hugely unfair. Also the low scores given to Nastia on the vault in the first round of the All-Around when no errors could be detected by the American experts seemed vastly unfair, although Nastia's great comeback throughout the four apparatus overshadowed that particular controversy.
Yet in both the men and women's gymnastic competitions, over and over the American commentators remarked on high scores given to America's competitors and the low scores given on identically-difficult routines by the American men and women. The women's vault competition in which Nastia was pushed out of the medals by a Chinese gymnast who had fallen in one of her vaults. In general, the quality of judging was not consistent in the least, partly because so many of the judges represented countries who has never produced a single Olympic medal. It's been a solid gymnastics experience for the USA, simply because the Americans did quite well. The men's team medal was a triumph without the Hamm brothers, and the women's silver team medal seemed a bit of an anticlimax, due partly to the seeming bias in scoring the Americans. But at least the American women took more gymnastic medals than the Chinese women did, which seems quite appropriate to me. Part of the issue with gymnastics, of course, is its inherent subjectivity in judging. It's rather like grading essays, and I'm sure that some bias comes through.
I've become a bleary-eyed zombie as a result of these Olympics which play basically all night long on five TV stations, only three of which we get with our cable service. I could watch Walsh and May all day long and anticipate their gold medal round tomorrow with great anticipation. Michael Phelps has been simply unbelievable in his record-breaking eight gold medals. The track and field is far less interesting to me, but seeing an American woman win the discus throw was quite cool. Although I admit to wishing to strangle the American coach who railed on the female pole-vaulter who clinched a silver medal and her personal best height against the reigning world champion who broke her own World Record after fewer than four years of jumping. Putting a microphone on that jerk of a so-called coach was a very BIG mistake.
Back to gymnastics, I applaud Jonathan Horton for scraping a silver medal on the men's high bar; his daring and sheer cheek paid off hugely as many men attempted routines similar to his, but he pulled it off beautifully. The Olympics are of a little more importance to us San Diegans as so many athletes train here in our Olympic Training Center.
The drama of the Olympics is what makes us stay up far too late, watching each event with a hawk eye, tense in our desire for the USA to triumph. But I am heading to the spa just after of midnight tonight, ready to make a feeble attempt to get to bed at a semi-decent hour as we're driving into San Diego tomorrow for school pictures. Although we're not purchasing photos, we want to be in the yearbook and also have photos for our school ID cards. Even I need to have a photo taken for my ID card as well.