Monday, August 18, 2008
Confusion in Gymnastics judging rears it's ugly head once again.
It wasn't the first chin-scratching moment in the history of Olympics Gymnastics. In fact, controversy has become almost as common a theme as tumbling, vaulting and the importance of sticking landings. You simply cannot watch a Gymnastics meet without be confused about the scoring. We saw it time and time again in the team and individual finals as the Chinese seemed to consistently score better than their American counterparts despite similar performances. It reared it's ugly head once again Monday morning in Beijing.
He Kexin and Nastia Liukin both performed beautifully in the Un-even Bars Event Finals only to discover to their, and everyone else's, dismay that they had received identical, 16.725 scores. It was clear that one of them would win the Gold. What wasn't clear was who that person would be, or what criteria would be used to make the decision. Bela Karolyi, providing commentary in the NBC studio, was convinced Liukin won the tie-breaker based upon her higher qualifying score. International gymnastics federation (FIG), President Bruno Grandi, said if his group had their say they would both win Gold. But unfortunately for Nastia, Karolyi was wrong and the IOC has a policy of awarding only 1 Gold per event. He was awarded the Gold based upon a complicated tie-breaking system. Why did she win? I can't begin to explain it but here it is, He won the gold because of a lower average of form deductions from the three judges who gave each gymnast their lowest scores.
Now I'm not even sure what that means, and the FIG was still trying to explain it to confused media and long after the medals were awarded. But easy to understand or not, Liukin ended up with a Silver medal while He took the Gold. It hasn't always been like this. The IOC used to allow multiple Gold winners in the event of a tie, and it used to be somewhat commonplace in Gymnastics. Liukin's father Valeri even won Gold in such fashion at the 1988 Games, when he shared the High Bar Gold with teammate Vladimir Artemov. The IOC eliminated multiple Gold medals after the 1996 Games in Atlanta.