Sometimes Things Just Suck
For many years now Jordyn Weiber has been the Next Big Thing in the sport of women’s gymnastics. after 2008, focus naturally shifted to the next cycle, the next Olympic Games. For a long time Jordyn was considered the anointed one. Breathless commentators talked about her big skills, her fairly clean form, the fact that she was basically unbeatable for years, the way her coach rested her for 9 months with a hamstring issue.
All the praise was–and is–absolutely deserved. Jo is one of the best gymnasts to come along in years. Her consistency especially has been just extraordinary. Jo wiped the field in virtually every competition she entered. I saw her win one of her first junior nationals over Sami Shapiro, and even then, she was amazingly steady.
After she turned senior, Jo turned into the It Girl of gymnastics. Although especially after her amazing (and unofficially Jo-beating) performance at the American Cup Gabby Douglas was starting to take that label, I think pretty much everyone believed that Jo would make a strong case for herself in the All Around, quite possibly winning.
Then in prelims yesterday, something shocking happened. I am not using the word shocking lightly. It was really and truly a giant shake up. I don’t know enough about sports to really offer any other comparisons, but it was shocking.
How did it happen? Well, for that we will need to look at 2 different things.
One is Jo’s performance. She was quite, quite good, but she made a few small mistakes, out of bounds on floor, missed a handstand on bars–again, nothing huge, but mistakes. Her connections on beam did not credited, which even her coach admitted a few months ago might be a problem. Why he did not fix that is beyond me, anyone could have told him that!
The other is the depth of the US program. The fact is, the US has enough very talented gymnasts that we could probably have fielded two complete teams that would be very competitive.We always knew that Gabby Douglas would be the other AA competitor if she hit, and in fact she was.
But people always tend to forget about Aly Raisman. One of the things that pisses me off about the gymternet is how much flack this girl gets; no, she cannot dance, but we are not watching fucking ballet. These are athletes. They do not have to prance around. I give her frankly less of a pass for her form in some areas, but Aly has worked very hard to get her form and flexibility up to par. Still, I don’t think I heard a single person suggest seriously that Aly would make AA over Jo.
But she did. Aly did some of the best routines–especially on vault and bars–that she has ever done, and she and Gabby were both just a little better than Jo.
That’s the genuinely hard truth about how it is at the top. Gabby, Aly and Jo are ALL tremendous gymnasts. They all do crazy-hard skills. They all work harder than most people can imagine. And the part that really sucks, and that is also the entire point of sports? Not everybody can win.
I hope sincerely that Jo can put those past her. She remains one of the best gymnasts this country has seen. She is a great, great athlete. I hope that she can pull everything she knows together and kick some ass, for her team and then, in floor finals, for herself.