And now, for the elephant in the room. Should Nastia Liukin have been asked to come to the Olympic Trials? Is it “fair?”
Well, unfortunately, “fair” has nothing to do with it. If “fair” had anything to do with it, the committee would have predetermined minimum standards that a gymnast MUST meet in order to qualify for the Trials. They wouldn’t be difficult to come up with…they already have the top 8 all-arounders as automatically qualifying. They could have easily specified that a gymnast must score at least a 15 on a single event (a reasonable requirement), or place in the top 3 on a single event, or place in the top 6 on two events, etc. That way, it would be very straightforward and objective regarding which gymnasts move on to the Trials.
But the committee doesn’t do this. Why? Because they don’t want to be bound by “rules” in the case of this exact type of situation – a situation where a gymnast who could potentially bring a lot of value to the team isn’t quite at 100%, and the committee is willing to give her more time. A situation like Nastia’s.
We could argue on and on about how unfair it is that Chellsie Memmel wasn’t even invited to NATIONALS after missing one beam routine, and yet Nastia Liukin is being invited to the Olympic Trials after hitting just 1 routine out of 4 at that nationals and looking nowhere near ready to even do a dismount at the end of her bar routine. We could argue that even Chellsie Memmel was still coming back from injury – two shoulder surgeries with one of them just a few months ago – and that Nastia Liukin has had since last fall (when she officially decided to make her comeback) to prepare this bar routine for this exact competition. Some might argue that she’s had four years to prepare it – if she really wanted to go to London.
But the bottom line is, none of this really matters. What matters is that, if the selection committee feels that a gymnast has proven herself enough in the past to be given the benefit of the doubt and that she could realistically be a major contributor to Team USA, they can make all the exceptions they want. That’s exactly the way the system is currently designed.
Having said that, would I personally have accepted Chellsie Memmel’s petition to the U.S. Championships? Absolutely. Would I personally have allowed Nastia Liukin through to the Olympic Trials? I think I would have, simply because I want to see her compete there, and due to the fact that she is still potentially right in the mix if she can put that bar routine together. She also has shown two world class beam routines in competition and hit a 15.1 on Day 1 of nationals this week, placing right up there with the very best in the competition. That’s at least something very tangible we can hang out hats on to justify her inclusion in the Trials. But did she “earn” the right to be at Trials? No, she didn’t. But I’m willing to make exceptions for an Olympic champion, as is Martha Karolyi. I think the decision just seems inconsistent after the Chellsie Memmel decision, and that’s why I would have allowed both.❞
American Gymnast | The Elephant In The Room…Should Nastia Have Made Trials? And Other Competition Notes… (via dancingdingledodies)
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