Women's Gymnastics. Run up to the Olympics

I watched tonight for lack of a better viewing choice.
Am I crazy are the Women older? More mature?

One was very young but she moved up from juniors just recently. She did very well. 2nd all around.
Simone Biles was 1st.
She looked great.
After her disappointment of the last go 'round.
When the twisties got her.
I was happy she has gotten past it.

I am very glad the Women are seemingly older. More likely to be able to handle it and just maybe less likely to be abused in some way.

The Magnificent Seven (1996 Olympics) were 19, 18, 19, 18, 14, 16, 18, for an average age of 17.42.

The Fierce Five (2012 Olympics) were 16, 16, 18, 16, 16, for an average age of 16.4

The Final Five (2016 Olympics) were 19, 16, 22, 21, 19, for an average age of 19.4

Simone Biles is 27 now, and the runner up at the trials (automatic spot on the team) is 21, so the average age of the team will almost surely be higher.

I didn’t not realize Simone was that age (I almost typed old , she’s still incredibly young).

She’s an amazing athlete.

Certain nations, such as China, have been notorious in the past for entering athletes who are almost certainly below the minimum age. Personally, I think that any sport where children have that much of an edge is fundamentally flawed, and should be redesigned so that isn’t the case any more, because a sport where children have an edge is just a set-up for abuse (either entering underaged competitors, or subjecting prospective competitors to treatments to delay maturity, or whatever).

Biles was on it last night. She is incredible not only to be performing at twenty-seven, but completely dominating the sport. This is a sport that is notorious for chewing up and spitting out athletes at a young age.

I’m looking for forward to Paris next month.

Only the Trials winner is guaranteed a spot. Note that they have gone back to 5-athlete teams (plus two alternates) with no “event specialist” positions.

I re-read the article. Biles and the runner up (Skye Blakely) at the US Championships are guaranteed spots at the Olympic trials.

That was my understanding as well.

Here’s an article on the subject: (TL;DR - they’re finding that they actually perform better as they’re older)

Olympics women’s gymnasts are competing at older ages - The Washington Post

Oksana Chusovitina has been in 8 straight Olympics, but just failed to make her 9th.

She won gold at her first Olympics over 30 years ago.

What changed was that the Soviet Union ended, and its without its massive corrupting influence all its Communist cronies were no longer allowed to make an utter mockery of the game. (And this is speaking as someone who has no love for my own country’s capitalist excesses.)

As for why children dominated in the past: Because they have no choices in life and can be dominated, coerced, and molded. Then just shamelessly game the system so that tiny, lithe bodies are suddenly the perfect ideal for the sport (which was most definitely not always the case), and voila, license to print medals. When this execrable system ended, actual gymnastics skills started mattering again, and those take time and muscle to develop (as bang’s article explains), hence the long-overdue age correction. I’d point to the unexpected triumph of the “Magnificent Seven” in 1996 as the final rebuke to the bad old days, and while China will always pull as much crap as they think they can get away with, the old stereotype of the little girl champion has gone the way of the standing high jump.

As for this year’s squad? My takeaway from Nationals was that while they’re far from perfect, they’re a tough, talented squad that rarely repeats its mistakes. Simone Biles was a juggernaut as always, Shilese Jones was rock-solid in the #2 spot, Suni Lee was inspirational in the way she fought her way up the ladder, and Jordan Chiles and Skye Blakely showed flashes of brilliance. There’s still trials to go, of course (I haven’t seen anything on my DVR’s schedule so far), but I have no doubt that our Olympic squad is going to be very hard to beat and all but a lock for another podium.

(Men’s side…ehhhhhh, just hoping for the best. Brody Malone looks like he’s going to contend for some hardware, at least.)

Not the way I see it. “Children” started taking over in 1976 when Bela Karolyi noticed that smaller women had an advantage; their feet fit better on the balance beam, allowing for more spectacular moves (remember, it wasn’t until Olga Korbut - herself just 18 or so at the time - in 1972 that anybody ever did a backflip on beam) and they could do more full swings on the uneven bars. Kristie Phillips went from the cover of Sports Illustrated to just missing making the 1988 Olympic team, and it can be explained in two words: “growth spurt.”

What changed? The scoring system. Difficulty was no longer capped by the “perfect 10” system (the same with the “perfect 6.0” system in figure skating).
Hmmm…now that I think about it, this might explain why the NCAA didn’t switch from the perfect 10 system for women’s gymnastics.

… had 14 year old Nadia Comaneci bring in seven perfect 10 scores (the first in the sport, for which the scoreboards did not even have the spaces) at the Montreal Olympics. He and other coaches who figured out the “advantages” had been at this for at least 8 years but after that performance this school of athlete development became established as THE Way To Win, with all it entailed.

Well, smaller women are little girls.

As we can tell by that crazy doctor and all those little girl gymnasts he sexually assaulted the move to college aged young women is probably the smarter way to go.

I’d be much concerned about moving my child across country and living at a gymnastics place. For many reasons. Them not being safe chief among them. That’s not ok.
The sport is so short lived and dangerous it seems idiotic.
Now I’ve never been in a situation where my child was that great or talented at a skill that someone would want them, I still think I’d be hard-pressed to okay it, if they were.

Gymnasts come and go. Only the very top few are remembered. Besides the biggies I can’t tell you any that were at Olympics the last few go arounds. Simone is one. The ones who testified against the pedo Doctor? Ummm, I can see their faces. Names? Nope.

Yeah. I’d keep my gymnast at home til college. Then they could decide for themselves, if they were still into it and successful.

I believe I’ve read (not a great start to a post) that the rules have been set up to reward moves that are generally only possible for smaller, younger athletes. For years the scoring system dictated smaller (and younger) gymnasts, and only recently have they been changing. Is there any truth to that?

I think the women’s uneven bars are set farther apart than they used to be, which makes certain skills from the past impossible to perform anymore. I don’t know if that change was mandated by the rules, or just a natural evolution of the sport.

Oh. I thought they were adjusted to the height of the gymnast.

I don’t know if the bars are still adjusted to the height of the gymnast. They are farther apart than they would have been years ago for an athlete of the same height.

I found this page that describes a “belly beat”; when gymnasts would swing from the high bar and wrap their waist around the low bar. I thought I’d heard somewhere that it had been banned, but this page says it went out of fashion as the bars moved farther apart.

Okay, it was an oversimplification. I’m no sports historian. :man_shrugging: I’m interested in your take on how the change in scoring made such a difference. It definitely rewards more difficult and spectacular moves (one of the reasons Simone Biles is such a complete juggernaut as opposed to simply dominant), but how does this favor older athletes?

Just checked my DVR again. There’s men’s gymnastics trials on the USA Network on June 27th, but still nothing for the women. The USOC (and NBC) is clearly saving this for primetime.