A-Sac’s bars scratch might not be a bad thing

Perhaps Marta Karolyi doesn’t want Alicia Sacramone to turn into Vanessa Atler. The two do have some frightening similiarities, namely amazing tumbling and vaulting ability that doesn’t translate over to the uneven bars, an event that keeps them from winning competitions like Nationals.

According to a report from Inside Gymnastics Magazine earlier this afternoon, Sacramone chose to forgo her shot at the all-around on the advice of her coach Mihai Brestyan and National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi. The reason given is that by doing bars, where the whole point is keeping one’s legs off the ground, Sac would be risking a leg injury.

It’s hard to believe they couldn’t come up with a better excuse. What about a hand injury? A broken thumb, perhaps?

The truth is that Sac is much more likely to get hurt on vault or floor, those events where you actually pound on your lower appendages.

Some are criticizing Karolyi for manhandling Sacramone out of the competition. It does seem that in American gymnastics today, Martha K. is more of a puppetmaster than advisor, whatever her title.

However, she might be onto something. In the runup to the 2000 Olympic Games, Vanessa Atler, considered by some the most talented gymnast ever to put on a U.S. leotard, persisted in competing all-around, despite the nerves that seemed to literally turn her into a different person whenever she came within 10 feet of the bars. By the time the 2000 Olympic Trials rolled around, Atler’s confidence on every event was shot, and the ensuing meltdown (there simply is no other word for it) cost her a place on the team.

It would have been interesting to see what would have happened to Atler if she had focused on her three best events prior to the 2000 Trials and tried to make the team as a specialist. The U.S. didn’t need help on bars then, and they don’t now.

Granted, Alicia seems a bit more sure of herself than Atler ever was. But even if Sacramone did compete bars, it’s doubtful she would ever be put up on the event in a serious international competition. So why bother? More time for working on the triple-twisting Yurchenko.

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2 Responses to “A-Sac’s bars scratch might not be a bad thing”

  1. blogomment Says:

    Atler’s problems in 2000 probably resulted from switching coaches at the last minute. She managed to win 2nd at nationals twice (or three times) counting bar falls. She would’ve been on the team had she stayed with the Rybacki’s. Another thing was her ankle injury. Yikes, I just thought of this but Valeri Liukin and ankel injuries don’t seem to mix. I wonder if the reason he seems too worried about missing the games next year is because he has been in this exact same situation before with Atler. Top athlete falls right out of the running.

  2. TCO Says:

    Atler was a more stunning vaulter than Sacramone (when you consider the horse being horizontal).

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