Sunday’s women’s gymnastics preliminaries serve as a perfect example that the "only two gymnasts per country rule" is simply absurd and has to be changed.
Jordyn Wieber deserves a spot in the all-around finals for women’s gymnastics, but she doesn’t have one because her teammates beat her out. Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas performed better than her in the all-around, so they took the two American slots.
Wieber placed fourth in the all-around standings out of 60 gymnasts competing. Twenty-one gymnasts with scores lower than her made it to the finals. She proved herself better than all those other gymnasts, but yet she’s not going to be competing against them.
How can anyone say that it’s a true competition against the best in the world, if the gymnast who placed fourth out of everyone is not even competing?
Wieber’s coach John Geddert openly blasted the two gymnast rule in an interview with Yahoo! Sports:
One kid is going to make a mistake that costs her country a medal, and they have to live with that the rest of their life. So the FIG really needs to start rethinking some of these things. A kid’s training their entire life and because they’re the 3rd best in their country, they don’t get to go to the dream competition. I just, I don’t know where they’re coming from. And that’s about as negative as I’m getting today.”
I understand how the team rosters have gone down from five to six per team. That makes sense because it increases participation from the gymnasts. But only having two gymnasts advance to finals for each country, that just doesn’t make sense to me. It is keeping talented gymnasts out of the mix, gymnasts who deserve to be there.
It’s said that the two per country rule is in place so that there’s not only gymnasts from one country competing. But, if all four of the top countries competed only all-arounders and every one of those all-arounders qualified, that would only take up 16 slots in the all-around finals. That would likely never happen and would still leave eight slots to other countries.
Until 2004, three gymnasts per country could qualify into the finals and two per event. That was at least a little better, but I think every gymnast who makes the general cut-off, which is top 24 for all-around and top eight for event finals, should qualify no matter what country they are from.
One might suggest that Raisman could step down and let Wieber compete, but I highly doubt she is going to do that and I doubt Wieber would accept the offer. Weiber is seemingly taking the news with stride, although she did, as anyone could expect, sob when she found out.
Raisman earned her spot in the competition, but so did Wieber.
Jordyn Wieber is the defending world champion and I believe that alone should be enough to grant her a spot in the all-around finals. Combined with the fact that she finished fourth out of everyone, it is just unjustifiable that she is not there.
I understand that rules are rules and Wieber rightfully got beat out. Also, if Aly Raisman was the one left off, this wouldn’t have caused nearly as much of a commotion.
Wieber was not the only gymnast who lost out in this cycle because of the two-per-country rule. Russia’s Anastasia Grishina, who took 13th, missed out and so did Great Britain’s Jennifer Pinches (21) and China’s Yao Jinnan.
France’s Aurelle Malausenna, Poland’s Marta Pihan-Kulesza, Japan’s Rie Tanaka, Australia’s Ashleigh Brennan and France’s Anne Kuhm are only in the all-around finals because of luck, not skill. That just doesn’t seem right.
I understand that it is far too late to change the rules now, but this should serve as a lesson for the future. The two gymnasts per a country rule does nothing but give lesser athletes a confidence boost and tear down the emotions of those who have given everything.
The FIG needs to let this experience serve as a lesson for the future and get rid of the only two gymnasts per a country rule.