Gymnastic news #22 - Tokyo or bust

FiveRinger

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Under Marta, getting injured was a mortal sin. Marta just cancelled an injured athlete until the athlete was able to beat Marta’s current top 3. No discussion, cancelled, done. How DARE you get hurt in the run up to the Os?
I thought I heard Maggie’s dad say that she hurt her knee at camp. That poor girl.
Someone made this comment on Facebook and I agree: Maggie Nichols is a bigger hero now than if she would have been if she had won all of the gold medals in Rio.
 

VGThuy

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Maggie Nichols was robbed of a spot on the 2016 Olympic team
I disagree with the word “robbed”. She was slightly ahead of Douglas at Trials but both had major errors on beam and Gabby has the misfortune of messing up beam on both nights but even with that, she was close to Nichols. Her floor was slightly higher than Douglas on average but Douglas was capable of scoring high on uneven bars so she was chosen since we needed bar workers. Locklear may have been a better choice for a bars specialist but Douglas could cover every other event unlike Locklear. We also know if both Douglas and Nichols performed up to their abilities, who would come out on top and who did come out on top in their last two outings together (American Cup and Worlds Team qualifications). I actually saw them both live at the American Cup and to me it was clear Douglas was the better gymnast if she was on. I concede she wasn’t her American Cup self at Trials (and arguably the Olympics) but she did her job there even if she was disappointed about not qualifying for the AA finals.

If Nichols got on the team due to score totals, then someone could argue she robbed Skinner and Smith.
 
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floskate

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In his recent Gymcastic interview, John Orozco as much as said Douglas was on the team for USAG revenue/endorsement/NBC fluff purposes and I remember that being discussed at the time. You can argue it either way based on the gymnastics but having seen Athlete A, USAG definitely seemed to be sidelining Nichols in the run up to trials - the Simone commercial, the fact no mics on the parents. I mean who here would actually be surprised if the team was already a done deal and trials was just about marketing ready for the post Olympic tour?
 

VGThuy

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I think most teams are done deals unless something catastrophic or injuries happened. It’s not like trial happens in a vacuum. Even the Mag 7 included members of the team most expected on it barring injuries and something unexpected happening (which almost happened if Amy Chow didn’t finish her beam routine). I’m not into playing this game of dismissing Douglas and I’ve seen enough from Orozco dismissing a lot of the female WAG members through his social media comments to take his opinion with a grain of salt. Had Russia been much closer competition like they had been in 2011 and even 2012, her bars score potential would have been vital. Any we’ve seen hyped up athletes missing teams or Olympic berths before. If Maggie had made the top 3 on any event that had a hole, she would have had a stronger argument to make the team. And what about MyKayla Skinner who scored a whole point higher than Nichols at trials and actually managed to place top three on vault? And I wouldn’t have put her on the team either but she offered more than Nichols did. Same with Ragan Smith who also placed ahead of her at trials and managed a top three placement on beam. I think Douglas did luck out in that she was the reigning World AA silver medalist, had an excellent meet recently at the American Cup and was a top three scorer on an apparatus where there was a huge gap unlike vault and beam and floor where there was a lot of depth and the gymnasts placing outside the top 3 were very close in scores to the top 3. But that’s the way the cookie crumbled in a 5-3-3 team final format.
 
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FiveRinger

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I mean who here would actually be surprised if the team was already a done deal and trials was just about marketing ready for the post Olympic tour?
This was my thought. The Olympic team was determined long before the actual competition was held. But we’ve all said for years (in one way or another) that Trials was a farce. The only person guaranteed a spot was the winner (and maybe second place depending on the year). The rest of the team was chosen subjectively. The last year that they took the top 6 or 8 athletes was 1988. Remember the Kim Kelly fiasco? The selection committee has had autonomy for years.

The team selection was definitely a topic of heated debate here on this board. There were plenty of people here that were pissed that Gabby made the team. Her performance was not great. But because she was the defending AA champion I had a hard time believing that she wasn’t going to be on the team. Simone, Aly, and she would have made the team barring catastrophic injury. It was an economic decision. It was never about ability. As we have discussed here before, Simone and any other 4 girls in the top 8 would have won gold in Rio. We had even discussed the fact that Laurie’s AA chances had been sacrificed in favor of Aly and Gabby the chance to compete. We didn’t know that Laurie was injured.

I don’t know why they bother with trials except it generates money. Why not just appoint team members? That’s essentially what’s happening anyway. There’s a selection committee, but we all know that the National Team Coordinator has complete autonomy. The competition is a joke anyway with all of the questionable scoring. Just call it what it is and be done with it. An exhibition and a chance for the public to see/meet the team.
 

VGThuy

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Just like Adam Rippon’s placement on the team in Pyeongchang and Wagner’s in Sochi...so on and so forth.
 

OnyxRose81

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The USOC says that all the sports have to have a Trials. That’s the only reason they’re held.

The team had long been picked and everyone knew it. The debate over that team was hotly contested and at that point in time, a lot of people did not have Maggie on their team. I was one of them because as good as an AA she is, she was not top 3 on anything. Gabby got leeway; it is what is. She was reigning Olympic AA champion and she was crucial for bars. Gabby was never in contention with the others so I’m not sure why people keep framing it like that. If anything, it was Laurie’s spotup for grabs. Orozco and others do Gabby a disservice by always putting her name in their mouths without understanding the makeup of a team. He at least should know better.

Maggie was hosed in 2015. She was unfortunately injured, due to whatever reasons, but that ultimately put the end to her Olympic dreams.
 

VGThuy

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People are forgetting that USAG marketing folks would probably have loved it if Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin and even Alicia Sacramone made the 2012 Team, but they didn’t because they were that bad at trials (or Nats) or showed they were not ready at all. It’s not like Douglas walked up to the mat, showed off her 2012 gold medal and got placed on the team, which is what some of the posts are sounding like. Trials does have a place where you have to show you are at least healthy and have the difficulty to give some benefit to the team finals.
 

floskate

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Not saying that she just rocked up as OGM and expected to be put on the team at all. There had been so much speculation about her comeback and people thinking it was just for sponsorship etc but Gabby circa 2015 worlds was teh real deal. I just said cases can be made for Gabby - as you have done very well - and for other options regarding who made that team.

The one thing I didn't necessarily buy from Athlete A was the narrative that reporting Nasser is what got her blacklisted and ultimately cost her an Olympic spot (and therefore an assured OGM had she stayed healthy.) I know this is something that John Manly has been pedalling but can anyone point me towards any proof of this?
 

her grace

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Maggie Nichols was robbed of a spot on the 2016 Olympic team
Then who should she have replaced and which events are you having her do in team finals? Nichols wasn't top 3 on any event at Olympic Trials.

The balance beam situation has a good recap of the team selection; scroll down to the "E. Oh also" section. He agrees with the chosen team and states that the five chosen was the top potential scoring team based on OT scores if you don't choose Locklear (ahem, I would :saint:). And then goes on to state:

Now, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t ALSO a ton bullshit around how the decision was made and doesn’t mean that the team was actually selected for those purely logical gymnastic reasons that exist. Given everything we’ve learned about Steve Penny, and how he had his fingers in every stupid little thing regarding the marketing of these athletes and the organization, and how he did everything possible to value image and marketing over safety and humanity, there’s every reason to assume that corruption played a part in arriving at this team (likely in ways we haven’t even learned yet), even if it’s the exact same team and alternates I would have selected for “normal” reasons.
And a few other thoughts

We didn’t know that Laurie was injured.
We actually did know because International Gymnast magazine reported she was. But then Maggie Haney denied it and most everyone believed her when it turned out she was lying.

People are forgetting that USAG marketing folks would probably have loved it if Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin and even Alicia Sacramone made the 2012 Team, but they didn’t because they were that bad at trials (or Nats) or showed they were not ready at all. It’s not like Douglas walked up to the mat, showed off her 2012 gold medal and got placed on the team, which is what some of the posts are sounding like. Trials does have a place where you have to show you are at least healthy and have the difficulty to give some benefit to the team finals.
A-Sac wasn't "that bad" at Olympic Trials. She was 2nd on both beam and vault, but put an asterisk on the vault placement because she was behind a handful of athletes who only did one vault. However, her situation was more akin to Locklear's where she didn't compete the other events, and the U.S. had an overwhelming amount of vault talent that year so she didn't necessarily fit the team's needs.
 

Coco

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I have the utmost respect for Maggie, but it's almost offensive to argue that.. by default... Douglas didn't deserve her spot.

Skinner was the unlucky one, but she was probably 'banned' in Martha's eyes after her 3 fall beam at Nationals. And as others have noted, Douglas filled a relative void on UB

Nichols not doing AA in 2015 World's prelims ... I'll have to look at scores to see if that was dubious, but that was really what did her in. She was behind Douglas from that point on and if you are trying to pass someone, you need to make a much stronger case.

She was treated horribly, but not robbed.

The apparent lack of transparency in selection must make life so much harder for all of the young women who don't make the team.

I know Alicia felt robbed in 2012, as did Ashley Wagner in 2018. Being in a judged sport must be enough to make you go mental.

Does anyone remember how Douglas had to fire Kittia Carpenter to be placed on the team? That all happened the same day.
 

VGThuy

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She had to fire her? What was wrong with Kittia Carpenter? I do remember on that reality show that they didn't seem prepared at one competition and Gabby's mom spoke to her and was making sure Carpenter remembered to pack every thing for the upcoming competition. I don't know how much of that was for TV though and how much of that was actually Carpenter's responsibility.
 

Aceon6

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I believe that Marta cancelled Maggie long before the trials and that Maggie and her parents knew that she was the longest of long shots to make the team, even as an alternate. What Athlete A gets wrong is omitting the injury/recovery timeline. Without it, a casual viewer would not have any context for what happened.
 

skategal

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Watched it last night and also felt like alot of information was left out of it.

My theory is that the Nichols blame the Karoylis for Maggie's injury (probably rightfully so!) which ultimately meant she didn't make the team rather than the sexual abuse complaint.

The documentary, however, didn't distinguish between those things.

I'm sure many more things were said and done behind the scenes to Maggie that didn't get discussed in the film and my heart goes out to her and all the athletes.

I also noticed that the complaint went in to USAG in June 2015 and Maggie was on the team for Worlds in October 2015. This also wasn't pointed out in the documentary but was pretty clear to fans who know when Worlds was held.

My DH, a casual fan, picked up on it right away though saying "I don't know who she could have replaced on the team."

So at least some casuals are seeing through it. :shuffle:
 

allezfred

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I think the point behind Athlete A was that the possibility of being dropped from the team was undeniably used to keep those young girls and their families in line. Absolutely horrific.
 

canbelto

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Just watched Athlete A. Whether Maggie deserved to make the Olympic team is one thing. But the fact that she wasn't supported by USAG when her coach reported the abuse is horrifying and unforgivable. That story of the Simone commercial is awful.

I would have left Madison Kocian off the team. I always found her bars sort of overrated and she was essentially a one-event gymnast. But then again, she too was a victim of Nassar's abuse and she was not supported either. Ugh, there are no winners in this awful story. Larry Nassar spared no one.
 

danafan

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Based on recent tweets from current and former British WAG (including Becky and Ellie Downie, Lisa Mason, Danusia Francis, Ruby Harrold, and Catherine Lyons) I think some sh!t is going to hit the fan regarding abusive coaching in British gymnastics. The governing body shared this today: https://www.british-gymnastics.org/...53-british-gymnastics-applauds-athlete-action

I don't know who started it, but many British gymnasts have been sharing this: https://twitter.com/Bdownie/status/1277660900737024003?s=20

And this: https://twitter.com/Bdownie/status/1276055361427038210?s=20 (Emphasis mine)

Changing a culture is extremely difficult but it is possible, I have seen it. Learning to say no took me a very long time but it was the best thing I ever did & I’d do it 1 million times over to continue fighting for change to protect future generations of gymnasts.
 

floskate

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Based on recent tweets from current and former British WAG (including Becky and Ellie Downie, Lisa Mason, Danusia Francis, Ruby Harrold, and Catherine Lyons) I think some sh!t is going to hit the fan regarding abusive coaching in British gymnastics. The governing body shared this today: https://www.british-gymnastics.org/...53-british-gymnastics-applauds-athlete-action

I don't know who started it, but many British gymnasts have been sharing this: https://twitter.com/Bdownie/status/1277660900737024003?s=20

And this: https://twitter.com/Bdownie/status/1276055361427038210?s=20 (Emphasis mine)
I always wondered what happened to Catherine Lyons........I guess now I know. :fragile:

https://twitter.com/ASlightReturn1/status/1277704902039400449
 

canbelto

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ETA: I'm so disturbed that Maggie Nichols basically followed the timeline for recovery from knee surgery and thus COULD have been in good shape by the Olympics, but Marta thought that having knee surgery was probably a sign of weakness.

Is there another sport where athletes getting injured is considered a weakness?
 

VGThuy

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Gymnastics is seriously all kinds of twisted and messed up. Many coaches trained in old school Communist settings still have this fear of water. Not drowning in it but letting their athletes drink it. It’s crazy. Even Valeri Liukin had issues with it.
 

canbelto

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Gymnastics is seriously all kinds of twisted and messed up. Many coaches trained in old school Communist settings still have this fear of water. Not drowning in it but letting their athletes drink it. It’s crazy. Even Valeri Liukin had issues with it.
I have read that too. Why? Isn't staying hydrated actually a way of staving off extreme hunger?
 

VGThuy

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I have read that too. Why? Isn't staying hydrated actually a way of staving off extreme hunger?
I’m trying to figure it out. I guess they think water bloats you? The stories the 1970s Romanians have about the Karyolis withholding water from them to the point where some of them resorted to drinking toilet water was eye-opening to say the least.
 

canbelto

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So looking at the breakdown of the 2016 team:

Simone and Aly - locks
Madison Kocian - probably included because she was a bars specialist as well as pupil of Valeri Liukin who had been tapped to succeed Marta
Laurie Hernandez - included because she seemed to be peaking at the right time
Gabby Douglas - always kind of odd that she was included. She seemed to be treated as the red-headed stepchild of the team. She and Simone didn't seem to get along.
 

VGThuy

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Gabby and Simone seemed to get along fine at 2015 Words. I think she went through a lot in a year and then was under a lot of scrutiny leading up to Rio. Then at Rio, she was put under the microscope and then criticized beyond belief for not smiling. A solid Gabby was still one of the country’s best AAers and top bars worker. Ashton Locklear was a better bars worker but couldn’t even tumble so was useless on any other event in case the team was hit with a bout of bad luck and needed her for something. After the injuries during the competition at 2003 Words, Athens, and Beijing, and even London, I wouldn’t take any chances either.
 

her grace

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I think she went through a lot in a year and then was under a lot of scrutiny leading up to Rio. Then at Rio, she was put under the microscope and then criticized beyond belief for not smiling. A solid Gabby was still one of the country’s best AAers and top bars worker.
Agreed. And also one of the best AA and UB workers in the world. Douglas did her job in Rio and looked much improved from trials.

I think she got extra scrutiny because her inclusion on the team was controversial, but she certainly made her case out on the competition floor. The criticism she got in Rio wasn't about her performance, it was steeped in sexism.
 

Rukia

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I kind of wonder if Laurie Hernandez didn't just get a bump from peaking at the correct time, but also because Maggie Haney seems like just the kind of coach the Marta would love.
 

canbelto

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I think Aly was the gymnast Marta most favored. She was the kind of solid but boring gymnast in the mold of so many Romanians of the past. She was pretty awful on bars.
 

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