Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Apparently this is still an issue.

Paul Hamm won the individual all-around gold in Athens fair and square.

If anything, we should have been up in arms about Paul winning the silver in the high bar event final and Aleksei Nemov with his six release moves not even medalling* -- or what about Dimosthenes Tambakos and his step on the dismount taking the rings gold over Jordan Jovtchev and his higher-in-difficulty and perfectly clean routine**? Both of those events had me seething.

However, there are still people out there on the Internet who think Paul is selfish and arrogant for keeping the gold.

I'm writing this entry to make a point: uninformed individuals feed the fire of controversy. They cost people money and reputation.

If you don't remember the event (or don't follow men's gymnastics as well as I do), I'll briefly re-hash it for you.

1. Paul Hamm led the individual all-around (an individual competition consisting of six events [for men]: floor exercise, rings, pommel horse, vault, parallel bars, and high bar) after three rotations. In his fourth rotation he competed on the vault and crashed, scoring a 9.1something. This is terrible. He dropped to 12th.
2. He scored a 9.837 on parallel bars and other gymnasts ahead of him started to suck. Yang Wei fell on high bar. Ioan Suciu messed up on parallel bars as did his fellow countryman, Marian Dragulescu. American Brett McClure got the shaft on rings (another controversy not pursued***).
3. In the last rotation and as the last gymnast of the competition, Paul scored another 9.837 and won gold. (Incidentally, he thought better than a 9.825 would just give him bronze.)
4. The NBC coverage showed Yang Tae-Young crouched with his hands over his head.
5. Sometime later after the contest South Korea files a protest. First misstep: this protest, unless against the integrity of the judging (see: 2002 pairs competition in Salt Lake), should not have been heard. The protest was (as you may remember) about the SV (start value) of Yang Tae-Young's parallel bars routine. He competed on p-bars in the fifth rotation. There was an entire rotation to file the protest before the competition ended.
6. The tape of the p-bars routine was reviewed. Second misstep: video replay was NOT allowed in gymnastics competition (like it isn't in swimming). In stupidly reviewing the tape, they find that Y T-Y's routine was indeed a 10.0 SV, not 9.9 as he was given. (SVs refer to the maximum score a gymnast can earn based on what elements they have in their routine; their deductions are taken from that score.)
7. Everyone freaks out.
8. Paul is interviewed, says he won't give up the medal.
9. FIG says he should give it up.
10. USAG throws a fit.
11. IOC stays out of it.
12. Nothing is solved.
13. But then, the key to the puzzle finds its way to the coffee table. Miles Avery, Olympic coach and Paul's coach at OSU, says that while reviewing the tape of Y T-Y's p-bars routine he finds that there is a hold not deducted for. There are a certain number of holds allowed in one routine and Y T-Y had one more than allowed. The deduction is two-tenths.

Let's break this down.
Say the judges (illegally) give Y T-Y his 10.0 start value. He wins the competition, right? Wrong. In giving him the 10.0 SV they've used the video, so they take off .2 for the hold. He's right back where he started, not winning the gold medal. Then, you have to give EVERYONE the same treatment, reviewing their routines and correcting the scores. Wow, that's dumb. So no one did it.

Results remained the same, Paul has his gold, South Korea is pissed (until Ahn beats Ohno one and a half years later in Turin), and people (Americans!), because they don't bother to get all the facts (Miles Avery's right: when reviewing the tape you can see the extra hold) they make the wrong decision.

*I was terrified this would become bigger than the IAA deal. But noooo, no one cares about Aleksei Nemov and his amazing show of class in shushing the booing crowd as Paul stepped to the podium. Aleksei should have won. Paul shouldn't have silvered. Yann Cucherat wasn't that good. The only real problem was that no one (with the clear exception of Aleksei) was outstanding.

**Bulgaria, whom Jordan represents, actually filed a protest. It was denied. That event was a crock. Jordan was far and away the superior gymnast in that competition. Even my dad thinks so and he knows nothing about the intricacies of scoring. "But he didn't stick his landing!" Exactly. They didn't even take off for the step. Just because he's Greek.

***Same thing happened to McClure that happened to Yang Tae-Young. His SV was about three-tenths lower than it should have been. Did America file a protest after the contest? Nope.