Olympics outrage: Should Jordyn Wieber be in the all-around final?
Criticism mounts after favorite Jordyn Wieber failed to qualify for the all-around final at the Olympics despite a solid performance. Rules allow only two American gymnasts in the final.
How could Ms. Wieber, the 2011 all-around world champion – who even on an off day Sunday finished fourth in the qualification round – not make an Olympic all-around final of 24 girls? Put another way: Twenty-one girls who scored lower than her on Sunday – will be competing Thursday in the event that defines the careers of the world’s best gymnasts.
Wieber reached the top of her game when she was only 10. As an eighth grader in 2009, she won the all-around at the American Cup. Since then, Wieber has only ever lost twice in competition and only to Americans.
Wieber erupted into tears as soon as she caught sight of the scoreboard, covering her eyes in vain. To make matters worse, NBC later interviewed Raisman in front of Wieber as Wieber struggled to maintain her composure. Let’s just say that those awkward hugs the girls give each other after completing an event are going to get a tad more uncomfortable come Tuesday.
The spectacle prompted a discussion about the fairness of the Olympic rule that limits each country to two gymnasts in the all-around finals. (Wieber had the fourth-best individual all-around score, but she trailed fellow Americans, Raisman and Gabrielle Douglas).
Tricks to avoid getting Wieber'd
Even before 2004, when the per-team limit was three, the top countries performed their own special brand of gymnastics – with their lineups – to ensure their top girls didn't get Wieber'd
In 1992, one of the three all-around finalists for the Russian Unified team suffered an injury (gasp!), conveniently allowing their top gymnast, who fell on the beam and finished fourth on the team in the qualification round, to enter the all-around. She won gold, and it was later confirmed that the injury was a complete fabrication.
Four years later, when the same thing happened to the best Romanian gymnast, the coaches simply pulled one of their top three finishers, saying she "didn't work hard enough."
Surely, the US would never consider claiming that Ms. Douglas or Ms. Raisman had an "injury" to get Wieber into the final.
I watched the russian and romanian girls after our round - they were flopping all over the place on easier routines and still got higher scores than Jordyn Wieber - she was robbed.