Wednesday, 24 August 2016

"Beyond compare..." or is it?

Just a quick thought...

I loved the Olympics. I watched what I could catch via my European holiday on a grainy TV set with a bent aerial. Simone Biles was, as ever, magnificent to watch.

And as a result she has earned her place as one of the greatest Olympic gymnasts of all time, In a single Olympics! Well deserved.

The commentary and response has been wonderful and will undoubtedly inspire many young people to try their hand at this fantastic sport. Many of the soundbites painted this as a complete first ("unbeatable!", "Unprecedented!", "The greatest ever!") which in many ways it was.

But let us cast our mind back 16 years to Sydney, and to a story of what could have been...

The 2000 Russian gymnastics team is widely hailed as one of the greatest assemblages of talent ever to grace the sport. However, multiple mistakes on a range of disciplines forced the Russian contingent to bitterly settle for silver.

The greatest medal haul among this team went to...

Elena Zamo.

After famously falling from the beam and failing to qualify for the AA, Elena had a second chance when she was placed into the AA in the place of Elena Produnova.

Despite starting well, a disastrous double twist to punch front (the easiest pass of her later gold medal winning floor routine) cost her an AA medal. She did however follow this will two individual apparatus medals, the aforementioned gold on floor and vault gold to boot.

So what is my point?


Team silver (tipped for gold)
AA no medal (could have easily taken gold)
Vault (gold)
Floor (gold)


Floor (gold)

My point is that, were it not for a few fateful falls, the gymnastics history made in Rio could have been a rewrite of an Elena Zamolodchikova gold rush.

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