There has been much debate over the last few days about Jordyn Wieber’s failure to qualify for the All-Around finals. This is all somewhat baffling to me, someone who lives in a country which has achieved respectful results in gymnastics after the two-per-country rule was applied. It is a pity that people from other countries can not really fully understand and experience the popularity of gymnastics in Brazil and see how the development of the sport helped changing so many lifes. Brazil has never won a medal in gymnastics at the Olympic Games. Still, a great deal of people love gymnastics and there are some very passionate fans over here.
Regarding Jordyn Wieber’s situation, the reason for so much distress is that people believe she should be awarded the right to compete for a medal because she is one of the most talented and powerful gymnasts in the world (which I agree). Therefore, people claim that the two-per-country rule must be changed for a three-per-country rule. There is a very important point no one is considering, though: What about the other countries?
If the three-per-country rule was to be applied in London, France’s Aurelie Malaussena and Poland’s Martha Pihan-Kulesza would be left out of the finals. Both gymnasts were the only female gymnasts from their countries to qualify for a final in London, the all-around final. If the rule was to be applied, France and Poland would not be represented in the finals whatsoever. Some could argue that this could be remedied by increasing the number of spots in the final, to 32. The competition is already chaotic with 24 gymnasts; 32 would be an excessive number and spectators would feel at loss about who to follow (and harder for the TV channels to package- part of the reason it was reduced, I would bet ed.).
Now, imagine what it means for gymnastics to have two more countries supporting their athletes, cheering for them. There is a relatively large number athletes from non-powerhouse gymnastics countries reaching the finals in London, both male and female gymnasts, who come from countries like Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Chile. Among all those countries, only one athlete from Puerto Rico managed to win a bronze medal at the 1996 World Championships. No athletes from the other aforementioned countries ever earned a medal in Artistic Gymnastics at World Championships or the Olympic Games.
The two-per-country rules mean that, in theory, a bigger number of countries will have the opportunity to be represented in the finals. Gymnastics, like every other sport, has a clear and well-defined set of rules. By these rules, the USA has two shots at gold in the All-Around competition with Alexandra Raisman and Gabrielle Douglas. Wieber played by these very rules and rightfully accepted the results. All the other athletes played by the very same rules and accepted their fates as well. Wieber still has a chance to earn gold with the US team, and what a wonderful achievement that would be. The glory of earning a medal, any medal, of any color, should be enough for an athlete to be sure that he or she made his or her nation proud. I am sure Wieber made her nation proud with her performances, and will show the same dedication in Team finals. By these rules, she could become an Olympic Champion with the US team, and this should not be considered an easy feat, at all.
Brazilian women failed to reach Team Finals at the London Olympics, finishing 12th overall. I can assure you we are very proud of our girls for reaching this far. The spirit of the sport is in the competition itself. It would be wrong for any Brazilian to contest the rules and demand that all twelve teams reach the finals, just because the girls finished last. They played by the rules and accepted their fate, and it made us, Brazilians, proud of them. I really hope that Americans are proud of Jordyn Wieber. She played by the rules and supported her best-positioned teammates. We should all take a hint from her elegant actions instead of blindly demanding a change in the rules, disregarding other countries that could be affected by this change, and going against the whole Olympic spirit.
Article: Thiago Simoes
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