The U.S. heads toward the team finals in first place, but that isn’t the biggest news of the day. The fact the reigning all-around champion and U.S. team member Jordyn Wieber is out of the running for the all-around is what has the community buzzing. There is even a fledgling petition brewing to change the FIG rules—right now!
According to USA Gymnastics it was 2003 at Worlds, the FIG configured a rule that determines which gymnasts advance to the all-around finals competition. Only two per country may move forward, which means because Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas beat out their teammate Wieber, she is not eligible for the all-around.
A sad realization to be sure for Wieber and U.S. fans, but the fact remains this rule has been in place longer than these young ladies have been competing as babys. True, it punishes those teams that support a gallery of strong players, but on the other hand it gives gymnasts who may be competing individually for a country a shot at glory.
Imagine if today’s top five leaders, America, Russia, China, Romania and Great Britain, scooped up 20 of the 24 spots? World Cup Championships? OK that might work, but not at the Olympic Games.
The Olympics has always been the gold standard of athletic prowess, but it is important to note, this quadrennial gathering is also about bringing countries together in respectful competition, acknowledging individual and team spirit within the sporting arena.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s Olympic creed reads as follows.
The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
Yes, both athlete and coach are disappointed, perhaps heartbroken. No fan feels good about Wieber not continuing to the finals.
So please, begin a grassroots campaign to force the FIG to rethink the policy for the future. For now, the rule stands. You may not be happy, but to take away from those who move forward is counterproductive to the Olympic spirit.
There remain others who deserve a spot, not because they are the best, but because in Olympic tradition, they fought well.