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Pan Ams Aren’t the Olympics

November 3, 2011

Ana Lago with her gold medal (photo: Vanguardia)

And that is okay.

Sometimes, I think that I should just block comments on my youtube videos. At least they give me good ideas for posts.

The level of gymnastics at Pan Ams was lower than it was at the world champoinships. So what? The scores were lower. Wasn’t that obviously going to happen? The American team had less difficulty and more mistakes. That is why they did not go to worlds.

I have not written much about Pan Ams, but I did watch over half of the competition, and I enjoyed what I saw. If you are going to be anything more than a “once every four years” gymnastics fan, you have to accept that elite competitions vary in quality. As a fan, I have a different mindset going into every competition, maybe even watching every gymnast. Going into Pan Ams, I expected to see some nice, clean gymnastics, and some mistakes. I did not expect to see peaking Olympians.

This meet is probably going to be the highlight of some gymnast’s careers. Bridgette Caquatto is an obvious example. She was one of the top gymnasts in the country as a junior, but has been injured and inconsistent as a senior. This meet gave her an opportunity to be a star, and in her individual finals, she did it. Now, she is a three time Pan American Games champion. Not too shabby. She may be nowhere to be seen when the olympic team is named next year, but her performances here deserve the praise of fans.

Even if you believe that the results were controversial, Ana Sofia Gómez and Ana Lago made history for their countries in Guadalajara. No, they would not have even made event finals at worlds with those performances, but their routines were still enjoyable. Those results alone are impressive. There is no reason say that they would not have done well at other competitions, or downplay their accomplishments because Pan Ams is not the strongest competition. One of my favorite things about this kind of competition is seeing gymnasts from weaker countries, who have beautiful form or interesting skills, but have never and maybe will never be up there with the best in the world. I honestly don’t understand how it is possible not to appreciate that.

There is also no need to say that Shawn Johnson should not have competed here because she is clearly so much better than all of the other competitors. Maybe 2008 Shawn would have won 5 gold medals here, but 2011 Shawn won a gold and a silver. Even though Shawn wanted to go to worlds, she should be happy enough with her success here; having seen her performance at Pan Ams, worlds may have been too much for her. A lot of people expected her to win gold on beam here, but that did not happen. Still, it was a somewhat successful outing; she tested out some new skills and won an individual medal in her first international meet since the Olympics.

If you want to watch it, watch it. If you don’t, don’t. It’s as simple as that. Don’t expect too much, and don’t try to act as though the girls competing accomplished nothing because the field was small and weak. It was a big deal for a lot of them, for many different reasons. Yes, that even includes Olympic medallists like Shawn. Comparing the skill level at Pan Ams to the skill level of the top girls at worlds is not going to get you anywhere. There are some things that we all, as gymnastics fans, just know. It does not need to be pointed out time and time again.

I’ll end the same way I started: Pan Ams Aren’t the Olympics, and that is okay.

One Comment leave one →
  1. YCD permalink
    December 11, 2011 1:23 PM

    Nicely said…

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