All Around Reflections
At the end of the last rotation, after Komova had finished on floor, the BBC commentators were acting as if she had won. Everybody on twitter thought that she had won. Almost everybody in the arena thought that she had won. The other gymnasts thought that she had won. Komova herself seemed to think that she had won (although she later said that she did not). So as the BBC commentators were still gushing about her on the “live” feed, which was actually a little bit behind, I was shocked to click on twitter to see this from Nastia:
Of course, twitter exploded after that. A lot of people were just as surprised as I was. Then surprise, for some, turned in to congratulations messages for Jordyn, and for some, it turned into anger. And BBC still thought that Komova won.
I can honestly say that before this meet, I had no idea how emotionally invested I was in the sport. I cried with both Viktoria and Jordyn for a few minutes. How I feel when they are competing shows what I think of them as gymnasts, but also what I think of them as competitors. With Wieber, I am always calm. I do not usually expect mistakes, so tonight was a bit of a surprise. I am always afraid that Komova will fall. I do like her a little bit more than Wieber, but this goes beyond that. My heart speeds up when she is competing, and I find myself silently cheering her on, sometimes in Russian (I know 4 words). I think that deep down, I am always afraid that she is going to hurt herself, at least at these worlds. She looked much better today than she did in team finals, thank god.
I do not think that I was ever angry with the result, but I honestly did not understand it. Komova had some small errors, but Wieber’s bars were an absolute mess (don’t even try to say that this was not true).
I took awhile to cool down, but then I realized that what really disappointed me was that nobody really won this. Yes, there is a winner, and it’s Jordyn Wieber, and I accept that. That does not erase the fact that nobody came out today and really performed like a world champion, like the American team did two days ago. Say what you want about Mustafina, but in 2010, she went out there and she showed everybody that she wanted to be the world champion.
Oddly enough, the quote after the all around that I actually think sums up what I am saying comes from Rodionenko, who was clearly pro-Komova. While the other quotations from him do not really match this one, when asked who the best out there was by The Couch Gymnast, he said
No one. This winner has mistakes. That’s not gymnastics.
Between the top three, everybody had mistakes. The reason that I ended up accepting, and even liking that Wieber won, was that she went out after bars and she was the one who performed like a world champion should. She went out there and she owned it. Komova, meanwhile, looked like she thought that she had it in the bag. I’m not saying that she gave up, but she did not seem to be fighting for a world title on beam and floor. She looked like she knew that what she needed was “hit” routines, but hit routines meant more than just staying on her feet. Yao, of course, fell off beam.
It is easy to say that Komova should have won. We saw Wieber make a major mistake in the second rotation, and it looked like she lost it. But she fought back like a champion should, while Komova was cautious. It was not nearly as easy to see the deductions for Komova building up in the last two rotations.
I always say that I want the competition to come down to the rotation of turns, the steps on landings, the position of chest on landing, and even the toe point. But I would trade in drama for a great performance any day. This was ugly. Either Wieber or Komova could have been a great all around champion. They are fantastic, and a win from either one of them could have been great for the sport. Instead, we saw two nervous sixteen year olds out there tonight. In the last two rotations, however, it was Wieber, not Komova, who looked like a winner.
This has never been Komova’s year, and it has always been Wieber’s. Komova may have pouted on the podium, but she also knows that this is not her time. I am planning on writing more about the way she handled herself later, but I did not find it nearly as appalling as I thought I would from what I read (I did not watch the medal ceremony live). From her comments after the meet, she seemed more disappointed in herself and frustrated in how far along she is in her comeback than actually mad at the judges. She is mad at the coaches for not letting her try the Amanar, but she needs to focus on the real goal, and realize that this year, she was probably only pushed back so quickly because the team needed her so much. While she says that her ankles are 100%, that does not mean that she is prepared for this meet. Even John Geddert quickly acknowledged that she is clearly not at full strength, and that when she is, she will be much harder to beat. I hope that in the future, she can see this as a win, not a loss. Unfortunately, this all took away Wieber’s gold medal moment, to some extent.
I also owe an apology to Jordyn. My congratulatory message to her seemed like an afterthought. Honestly it sort of was, and I feel bad about that. Eventually, no matter how you feel about the results, you have to accept that a) they are not going to change, and the russians did not protest the score because it was fair and b) none of this is Jordyn’s fault. And that is just what I did. Slowly, I have accepted that she deserved this world title. While I still believe that it could have gone either way, I am fine with the outcome.
You do not have to agree with me, but that is the conclusion that I have come to, and I have thought about this a lot. I did think that Komova should have won in the beginning, and oddly enough, I have not watched any of the routines again to support my point. I needed some time to really think this over before forming an opinion. I probably will not watch it again until it is broadcast on NBC on Sunday; I am actually very excited to see if Tim and Elfi also thought that Viktoria had won it after floor. And I am excited to see how all of the gymnasts do in their next finals. Wieber is a favorite on beam and floor, Komova on bars and beam. Can Komova actually go out there and give us the performance of a world champion on bars tomorrow? Can Wieber win more gold? Will Romania leave without a medal for the first time in 30 years? I can’t wait to find out.
And if you have not seen it yet, here is the whole all around competition: