Shortcutting… Artistic Gymnastics

30 Jul

Today, I was lucky enough to attend the thrill- and scandal-filled Mens’ Artistic Gymnastics Final at the O2 (or should I say ‘North Greenwich’ – O2 are not a London 2012 sponsor and therefore may not be mentioned in conjunction with the Olympics) Arena. Scandal-filled because after a surprise finish of GBR coming second, Ukraine coming third, and Japan, who had been coming second till the last round, not making the podium, an ‘inquiry’ was launched by the Japanese, one gymnast’s score was re-evaluated, and Japan took the silver medal after all. Obviously, the home crowd were furious at this result, but I must defend the Japanese – it wasn’t there fault. As far as I could tell, points were added up wrongly or something. It may seem a bit off to complain, but the scoring did seem a little strange. Also, until that last round, us Brits were all praying to beat the Ukrainians and take bronze so we can’t feel too cheated. Although spare a thought for the poor Ukrainians, who were unceremoniously swept off the podium.

Anyway, scandals aside, I have learnt a little about the sport. For starters, there were six different events (for women it’s slightly different – I’ll come to that later): Pommel Horse, Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars, Horizontal Bar, and Floor. Apparently scores tend to be slightly higher for Vault, so do not be fooled if a team who have vaulted seem to be doing the best. Gymnasts are awarded points for execution, out of a possible 10, and for difficulty, the score of which is limitless. I think the highest score I saw was about 16.500, and the lowest 14.00, aside from the Japanese guy who got inquired about. Essentially, they have to put in as many twists and rolls and so on as possible, and try to perform them as neatly and aligned-ly as possible. To the untrained eye it isn’t always obvious why one routine scores higher than another, but it seems to me that the better the landing, the higher the score. If they land cat-like on two feet that’s 15.500 at least. If they stumble everywhere they can expect something below 15.000. According to the little introduction show ‘The Art of Gymnastics‘, gymnasts must combine agility, grace, strength, skill and balance (or something along those lines), which, apparently, ain’t all that easy.

A little research has told me that in the womens’ version, there are only four events: Vault, Balance Beam, Floor and Uneven Bars (a personal favourite). I’m guessing the reason for this difference is to do with men being generally stronger (the Rings seem to require insane upper body strength and all the men have arms like tree trunks), whereas women are traditionally more graceful and better-balanced. Anyway, whether you watch mens’ or womens’ artistic gymnastics, it is undeniably a very beautiful sport which requires immense skill (indeed, Plato thought that all philosophers should have a mastery of gymnastics). My only slight quibble with it is the element of subjectivity, but I suppose all art is subjective (and with a fell swoop, I lose Plato’s support).

Get ready to roll!

Keep shortcutting,


2 Responses to “Shortcutting… Artistic Gymnastics”

  1. mamagirlsaysitall July 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    This post came up in my reader yesterday and I had to scurry past it and refuse to read it because they hadn’t shown the coverage yet, here in the States. I can’t have spoilers! LOL! But I made a point to come back and read it today. And after watching the coverage last night, I feel that GBR was robbed! I watch the replays of the Japanese guy and really, he didn’t so much dismount as fall off of the pommel horse, due I think to the massive cheer that went from the crowd for GBR.

    • shortcutting July 31, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

      Oh I’ll make sure to warn about spoilers next time, I hope I didn’t ruin anything! Yes, I felt that too, have to admit I joined in the booing when the judges were leaving the arena and we were asked to ‘show our appreciation’ of them, but I’m sure they made the right decision in the end. And besides, I feel a bit guilty because I was willing him to fall off and he did – my Jedi powers worked!

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