A shocking and illuminating article written by International Gymnast’s Amanda Turner examines the extremely poor sportsmanship of Russian Maxim Deviatovsky. The crux of the article is that Deviatovsky half-assed team finals in favor of saving himself for the all-around final.
Devyatovsky didn’t actually withdraw from the competition in Beijing, but he might as well have, his teammates say. After a poor start on pommel horse (when Devyatovsky fell), they say he threw in the towel and decided to save his energy for the all-around final. His scores were the lowest on four of the five events he competed. The team finished sixth, 1.45 points from the bronze.
An infuriated Anton Golotsutskov couldn’t control his anger afterward.
“Some of us worked themselves sick and someone did not strain himself at all,” he told the Russian press. “It is very insulting. This person thinks only of himself.”
Golotsutskov continued, “You know who I am speaking of. You all saw. I think every athlete in the final of the Olympic Games should be in a special mood. And in principle, all of us were. Except one person. I find it difficult to talk about.”
Ouch. Gymnastics fans remember Deviatovsky from last year’s World Championships, where he inadvertently withdrew from the all-around competition after falling on parallel bars during the fifth rotation. Deviatovsky claimed he could have been injured, but the 2007 European all-around champion also said that if he wasn’t in the top three, the competiton didn’t matter to him. The Russian team, horrified by his attitude, temporarily expelled him.
He was back on the team by the Pacific Rim Championships, where he talked to Turner.
So I was surprised by his response when I asked him about the Stuttgart incident at the Pacific Rim Championships in March. “Looking back, I made the right decision,” he told me. “My foot was hurting and I could have been injured.”
To me that didn’t sound like someone who had learned his lesson. Devyatovsky just didn’t get it, and as his behavior showed Tuesday night, he still doesn’t.
In the second rotation on still rings, Russia took its lowest score from Konstantin Pluzhnikov, who had mistakenly dismounted with a simple layout flyaway. In preliminaries, the rings specialist frighteningly had peeled off on his dismount and landed directly on his head. The incident must have spooked him, and his planned full-twisting double layout became a simple layout in team finals.
It was a huge and costly mistake, but not a complete disaster for the team, considering Pluzhnikov’s routine was difficult enough to still bring an adequate score.
“Devyatovsky blames everybody except himself,” Golotsutskov said. “He started to rip on Kostya Pluzhnikov, who couldn’t do his dismount on rings. I say this is wrong. Kostya made a small mistake, but still we beat Germany on rings by a half point, using Pluzhnikov’s score. Three times we had a real chance to move into the top three. I blew up then and there, I simply did not have words.”
“After our performances on rings, he told us, there’s no point in still fighting. Already I understood, that he was not going to fight up to the end…. Everyone else kept fighting, but for him the competition ended. He has simply gone and spat on us. All right, God sees all.”
Turner ends with a written lashing for what is simply unworthy of the Olympic spirit:
I believe Devyatovsky should withdraw from the all-around, but would be shocked if he did. Since he was a junior, he has seemed more interested in individual glory for himself. I will never forget the Junior European Championships in Patras, Greece, when he said his all-around title was much more important to him than the team title. That is probably the only time that has ever been said in the history of gymnastics.
Golotsutskov said the members of the Russian team are ready to move on to London 2012. Heading into Beijing, the team expected a medal.
“I will repeat, our team spirit was simply magnificent,” he said. “I never expected that this would happen. Meaning, it was not our destiny [to be sixth]. We will try further. We are young guys… There is more ahead.”
But is there a future for Maxim Devyatovsky on the Russian team? I’m betting not.