Women’s team final: More China gold

Alicia Sacramone fell on balance beam and floor exercise, taking away any chance of the U.S. women's winning team gold.

Alicia Sacramone fell on balance beam and floor exercise, taking away any chance of the U.S. women's winning team gold.

Oh, how sad. What a way to win a silver medal. Like the Japanese men last night, only worse.

Silver is the most bittersweet medal for people used to being the best, or expecting to be the best, and the American women for the past quad have tended to be both.

Given his less than stellar routines in Beijing, particularly his 12.775 pommel horse performance in team finals, some may question whether Kevin Tan should have had a place on the bronze medal-winning U.S. men’s team. (The answer is yes he should have, because his rings score was still so high it offset wherever else he was lackluster, and he should not have been put up on pommels at all in team finals.) But there was never, ever any question that Alicia Sacramone had what it took. She was a talent whose start value on vault couldn’t be replaced, a former World champion on floor and a gymnast whose balance beam routine had stood the test of the U.S. Championships and Olympic Trials.

Sacramone didn’t lose the gold for the U.S. Her performance was bad — particularly on floor exercise, where she opened up a little too early on her Arabian double front while trying to stick the landing. The emotional look on her face throughout the rest of the routine didn’t help matters either.

But even if Sacramone hadn’t fallen on beam and floor and nobody had stepped out of bounds, even if Chellsie Memmel’s jam through to her double front had been credited on uneven bars, China still would have won by more than half a point. The U.S. didn’t hand the gold to anyone. It was China’s to lose all along.

Nevertheless, this whole competition probably hurt the highly-touted U.S. team. A lot. Bela Karolyi’s comments on NBC, blatantly accusing the Chinese of age falsification, may roil some bad feelings as well. Whether or not the Chinese really were all 16, we’ll never know, unless some team members make like Yang Yun and say on TV they were 14. The FIG and the International Olympic Committee have expressed no interest in exploring the issue.

I don’t feel like harping on this competition too much, except to say also that the Romanian women should be as thrilled with their bronze as the U.S. men were. Hopefully they will adapt better to the new code next quad. For Russia, another disappointment, and a shame for a country that produces such wonderful gymnastics.

On to the all-around final, which should be a great battle between Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson. Given the way both have performed in this competition, it’s anybody’s guess who’ll take gold, although Liukin seems to have a better shot than many would have expected even a few months ago.

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13 Responses to “Women’s team final: More China gold”

  1. shergymrag Says:

    “The U.S. didn’t hand the gold to anyone. It was China’s to lose all along.”

    It was China’s to lose in 2007 too. The difference is, the US made too many combined mistakes – not just Alicia’s falls – to capitalize on China’s errors this time. The US program had better figure out a way to ramp it up or they will be China’s runner-up bitch like Romania was the Soviet Union’s.

  2. eg Says:

    i feel bad she did better than any body i know A/nd/ the back flip to get on the beam/ looked Hard to do So you cant blame/ her plus the jdes made her wait and that wasnt fair to make her wait she stil did good

  3. eg Says:

    silver better than bronze and china was good team to lose to better than a worse team but she should be happy to be in the olympics

  4. jen p Says:

    i still think they cheated so what does it really matter, its like getting an A on test that u cheated on…I think it is disreceptful to people to make them out to be idiots to acutally believe those girls are 15 or 16. Some don’t look over the age of 12, i mean one had missing theeth and those aren’t because of dental problems..i just simple think her theeth feel out and new ones are growing in cause she is so young. Cheating is cheating. I mean if in 2004 Nastia who was 14 was to go and do the bars, usa might have won gold, but we didn’t take it to that level and the USA didnt’ cheat, While i think the china’s are amazing rules are rules and it not fair that one country flows them and anthor doesnt, yes there shouldn’t be an age rule, but there is so if America is flowing it so should eveyone else.

  5. TCO Says:

    I think if you take away the Sac mistakes, there is a bit more chance that USA puts pressure on the Chinese. Also that Fei is getting scored rather generously. But I don’t want to harp on the age thing. We did that enough before-hand. Any more is sour grape whine. They beat us. Kudos to them.

    Also think that programatically, something needs to be done to increase the talent pool coming in. I’m actually a big fan of the camps and of Marta’s simulated competitions and methods of weeding out the weak. We just need more coming in the front end. UB is a CLEAR case where the code had changed, opening up the door to plundering by CV. But only Liukin took advantage. The Chinese adapted and exploited better here. We should have had a programatic effort to exploit UB with high A scores. Both selecting and grooming specialists (perhaps not even in the NATS bunch, say from NCAA) and also deliberate coaching to develop the difficulty for whoever is seen as capable of doing it.

  6. Mike S Says:

    We just couldn’t hang with the Chinese on bars, and this is not new information. We have been talking about needing bars workers since the national championships this year, and Chellsie was picked for the team mostly because of her bars scores. Bridget was supposed to be our 3rd bars worker, but her scores never really materialized the way US Gymnastics hoped they would. Nastia is amazing on bars, but her scores alone are not enough to carry an entire team. She will likely be the AA champion though. The top bars scores are about 1 total point higher than the top scores for every other event, so the AA gymnasts who excel at bars have an advantage over those that excel at beam, floor or vault. So I guess that should be the strategy for coaches that want to win AA or team titles? Make sure you focus on bars.

  7. Skyler Says:

    I am so happy that China won! :D

    Anyway I agree, USA can focus more on the bars!

    I CANT WAIT FOR BARS FINAL!!!!!!

    I hope this would be the case:
    1) Yang Yilin
    2) Liukin
    3) He Kexin

    YAY!

  8. George N Says:

    As I noted on Rick’s blog, contrary to the wisdom of Grandi and the FIG, the older “mature” kids had all of the mental problems while all of the babies hit. Coincidence or is FIG just pulling their statistics out of their ass?

    Interestingly enough, the overwhelming crowd reaction to the “babies” routines’ on all the teams on the live feed (since both CBC and NBC decided it was a two horse race) would also indicate that they were not at all offended by the (as was so often insinuated in this and other blogs) robotic and soul-less performances of the younger athletes, although I’m sure the purists were choking.

    Anyway, here’s hoping that Shawn holds it together for the AA. Because when it comes right down to it that’s the kid that’s going to be responsible for packing each and every American gym for months to come. No disrespect to Nastia and all the other old birds out there, but the average kid identifies with another kid much more than a 20-something adult. And that’s why I’m pulling for the kids…

  9. shergymrag Says:

    The crowd might’ve been responding to the “babies” because they were the Chinese team and the crowd is largely Chinese. Cheng Fei is no baby and her routiine was rocking the house in prelims.

  10. shergymrag Says:

    And geeze, I want the best gymnast to win. I could care less if gym-owners can line their pocket books or not.

  11. Amanda Says:

    I want Shawn to win so bad, but unfortunately, I think the inconsistency between score capabilities on each event will allow for Nastia to win. I think they are both great gymnasts, but I definitely think Shawn is the better all around gymnast, so it seems unfair that bars will be such a huge advantage for some people.

  12. Mike S Says:

    Shawn is a better tumbler and more of a power athlete. Nastia has beautiful lines and flexibility. Both are excellent gymnasts, and it will be interesting to see who wins. I do think the current COP gives a slight advantage to bars specialists though.

    The old code was 0.25 floor, 0.25 beam, 0.25 vault, and 0.25 bars.

    The new code is more like 0.246 floor, 0.252 beam, 0.242 vault, 0.260 bars

  13. Ben Says:

    I really hope that Shawn gets the AA. I really do, but I think Nastia has the adventage because bars and Shawn has been some problems with scores, so I like Nastia’s gymnastics but I will be soo sad if Nastia gets the gold.

    Will see

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