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Something I Hate: Two-Per-Country

November 10, 2010

The Last Ever All Around Sweep

I know that Bruno Grandi wants two things when it comes to the sport of gymnastics: 20 year old gymnasts to win all the medals and gymnasts from “non-gymnastics countries” to make finals.

I can discuss my views on the age limit later, because now is time to talk about the two-per-country rule. Judging by the results, it was put into effect between The 1974 World Championships and The 1976 Olympic Games. Back then, due to their excellence and of course the politics of judging, the Soviets were able to do things like finish first to fifth in world floor finals. At that point in time, I believe that a restriction of two-per-country in event finals was a sound decision, especially considering event finals were only made up of six gymnasts. A similar restriction of three-per-country in all around finals was put into place.

This rule stayed until the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, where the Romanians swept the medals in the all around competition. The three-per-country rule had already lived through two all around sweeps. It was kept for the 2001 World Championships, but after this competition, the three-per-country rule in the all around final was abolished and restricted even further to two-per-country. Not only this, but the size of the all around final was decreased from 36 gymnasts to 24 gymnasts.

Since this has happened, the all around competition has actually started including less gymnasts from different countries. The gymnast who placed 36th before two-per-country has never made finals. Gymnasts placing as high as 6th have not advanced to finals. I’m all for gymnastics expanding and becoming popular in different countries. At the moment, gymnastics seems more universal than it ever has in the past, so if that is all that Grandi wants, his plan is working. However, I can’t help but say that I would’ve rater seen Makenzie Caquatto, Mattie Larson and Ksenia Afanasyeva in the all around this year than Marta Pihan-Kulesza, Elisabetta Preziosa and Nicole Hibbert. Afanasyeva especially, considering she was the poor girl I was referring to who quailfied 6th in Beijing and didn’t make finals because Semenova and Pavlova finished 4th and 5th, respectively.

So what do I suggest as a possible solution to this issue? I would love to see the top 36 gymnasts, no matter what country they are from in the all around finals. This would allow all of the top gymnasts who actually have a chance at a medal and more gymnasts who are not from strong countries to compete in finals. The competition would be a bit longer with 9 gymnasts in each rotation instead of 6, but I certainly wouldn’t care. For event finals, I think I’m okay with two-per-country. The gymnasts who are trying to get the last spots are usually close together in ability and scores, which is very different from someone who is top 10 and someone who is 22nd all around.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this will ever happen, but just as two-per-country was a the right decision to move the sport forwards in the mid-70s, 36 in the all around finals, in my opinion, is the right decision now.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jayd permalink
    November 11, 2010 1:32 AM

    I completely agree. Although it was great to see gymnasts from different countries competing at the Worlds (the different styles are fascinating; albeit becoming less so in this day and age) I would honestly rather see the best of the best, no matter where they are from. If a gymnast puts in the performance of her life and finishes in the top ten, but behind two other gymnasts from her county, I don’t think it’s fair at all to take away her rightfully earned place in the finals. I would rather see the best competition than a forcibly diverse one.

    And just to clarify that last statement – you are right in saying that when the 2 per country rule was first introduced it was the best thing to do at the time because gymnasts from less traditionally gymnastic-inclined countries needed a bit of a helping hand; but now things have changed. There are many more countries producing world-class gymnasts, and I don’t believe that helping hand is needed anymore.

    I also completely agree with your opinion that the competition should be expanded to 36 gymnasts again. After watching the Worlds I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was over so quickly. This may be due to the (official Dutch) coverage of course, but I don’t think so.

  2. Liz permalink
    November 11, 2010 6:04 AM

    I actually fully agree… not just because its unfair when a gymnast makes the top ten and isn’t allowed in the final … but because medals are at stake… Why should the third best gymnast on beam not be given the bronze medal just because she comes from a country that already hosts the top two gymnasts on beam???

    I understand diversity but I think even a gymnast who wins bronze wants to think they won it because it was deserved and not because some other girl didn’t make the final due to her team being too deep.

    For that reason I’d like it amended to a THREE per country rule at least!!!

  3. November 11, 2010 3:13 PM

    I couldn’t agree with you more. How unfair to qualify but not be able to compete because you are on a strong team.

  4. November 11, 2010 8:45 PM

    WOW I JUST found this site and I love it already and I have only just read the 1st article. Yes I DEF agree that the 2 per country rule should be changed back. AND FINALLY FINALLY someone has mentioned Bruno Grandhi and “HIS” changes. I really think that HE IS THE PROBLEM.. I really dont even think he LIKES this sport anymore. I would love to see more changes to this sport. I for one dont understand why the scores in the premilms do ot count anymore. I think gymnastics is such a hard sport that anything the gymnast do SHOULD cound toward thier final score. I could go on and on about all the STUPID CHANGES Bruno and Nelli Kim have implemented since their “reign” I know LETS CHANGE THEM…

  5. November 11, 2010 9:02 PM

    Thanks for all the nice comments!

    Something that I forgot to add while writing this is something about the practice of removing gymnasts who qualified for finals because others have higher medal chances. I’m thinking of Baraksanova and Mostepanova vs. Omelianchik and Shushunova, Galieva vs. Gutsu and Marinescu vs. Amanar. What is interesting is that this seemed a lot more common during three-per-country, probably because the third ranked gymnast who hit perfectly did not have as high of a medal chance as the 4th or 5th ranked gymnast with a fall. The second ranked gymnast usually does have a pretty good chance at a medal, depending on the team of course. Unfortunately, any per country rule creates the possibility of this happening, unless there is a rule against it. I think that this is even worse for the athletes than the rule in the first place, because of the tension it can create between them, unless it is a mutual decision like Khorkina and Zamolodchikova in Sydney vault finals.

    Diane Lee, I agree with you about prelims scores counting for something. I have recently started thinking that a fourth of prelims scores should be added onto the final scores or something along those lines. I think it’s fair to reward the gymnast who is consistently the best throughout the competition. If a competition is close, it seems fair to me for the gymnast who was able to hit all week to win. I also think that this should be the first tiebreaker in all finals.

  6. November 16, 2010 1:46 PM

    Can you please tell us where us US team has been at all these international events?? Why didnt we send any of out gymnasts???

    • November 16, 2010 3:24 PM

      Well, the US hardly ever goes to world cup events as it is. There are certain events that they attend every time they happen like all the Pan Am events, Jesolo and Pacific Rims. I’m going to guess that it’s because they don’t want to over compete their top gymnasts and maybe they don’t see the point in sending the national team girls who didn’t make worlds to these events. All of them except Amanda Jetter are currently injured or going to college and no longer competing elite, as far as I know. All of the Russians looked tired and out of shape last weekend. The US doesn’t seem to like sending their girls when they are not at their best. This doesn’t really count, but a few gymnasts from Bart Conner’s gymnastics club attended the Massilia competition this weekend. I do think that we will see some 1996 born US girls at world cups in 2012 to see how they deal with the pressure in the Olympic year.

      I may be writing a post somewhat related to this soon!

      • November 16, 2010 6:13 PM

        Well thank you soo much for answering this question. I have asked this question to Intlgymnast website but the never answered. I really think that we should be represented at these events. Even if it is our “b’ team. I think it would be great experience for them. After all we are the 2nd best team in the world, We SHOULD be there, right?? Again thanks so much for responding. So another thought, what do you think about the number of gymnast on a team being reduced at worlds and Olympics??? What do the gymnast think themselves?? Just another one of Bruno rules that really stink.. Just saying….

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