Raisman, Wieber and Others Excluded by Bizarre Olympic Gymnastics Rules

Chris HansenContributor IAugust 2, 2012

Raisman and Wieber were both excluded by rules.
Raisman and Wieber were both excluded by rules.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Gabby Douglas earned a gold medal in the Women's Gymnastics All-Around Final as 24 of the top-28 qualifiers completed. USA's Jordyn Wieber finished 4th in qualifying, Anastasia Grishina from Russia 12th, England's Jennifer Pinches 21st and Yao Jinnan from China 22nd. They were stripped of their Olympic dream through no fault of their own, but because of a rule that only allows two competitors from each nation to compete in the final.

Competitors from France, Poland, Japan and Austraila that finished 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th took their place. That's right, the Olympics used social promotion to help decide who the competitors would be, and the participants that benefited aren't exactly from third-world countries. 

The All-Around Finals results were also tainted by an odd gymnastics rule. USA's Aly Raisman tied Russia's Aliya Mustafina for the bronze medal with 59.566 points, but a tie-breaker rule that combines their three top scores of the day gave Mustafina an edge and the medal.

In 1996, three competitors from the same country were permitted to advance to the final with ties allowing two competitors to both earn a medal. Romania's Gina Gogean won the silver, while her teammates Simona Amanar and Lavina Milosovici tied for the bronze.

No other sport has such bizarre rules. Kenyans regularly win all three medals in marathon running. The Chinese have recently dominated weight lifting competitions. When there's a tie in swimming or track, both competitors earn a medal.

Competitors and fans suffer under the current system. Common sense would award two medals in the case of a tie- that was fair in the past and would be fair today. As for the qualification rule, it's time for the Olympic Committee to face the controversy and decide if a majority of countries should be able to restrict a minority's number of competitors. Having the top 24 advance to the final worked before and would be welcomed by many in 2016.