Jordyn Wieber, the best women's all-around gymnast from the past two years, put together the fourth-best score during qualification in London on Sunday, but she won't be one of the best 24 to advance to the finals.
Yes, you read that right.
Wieber, who took home the gold medal in the individual all-around at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo, came to London with the highest of expectations. Anything less than a medal would be a huge disappointment.
Unfortunately for the 17-year-old American, disappointment came quite a bit earlier than could ever have been expected.
Wieber, with a total score of 60.032, finished fourth in qualification (see complete results). Normally, that would be way more than enough to put her through to the finals, which is home to 24 gymnasts.
But here's the kicker.
Finishing ahead of Wieber were Aly Raisman (60.391) and Gabby Douglas (60.265), who, of course, are both American.
And, according to the official rule, only a maximum of two gymnasts from each country can advance to the finals.
Let's get this straight. Wieber, who finished a mere 0.233 points behind Douglas, is punished because her country is too good at the sport?
Arguably the best women's gymnast in the world gets her spot taken by 20-year-old Gaelle Mys, who put up a total score of 53.698, a good six points-and-change fewer than the talented American.
This is the Olympic Games we are talking about here. The goal is to bring together the best athletes in each sport and let them compete to bring pride to their respective nations. There should be no stipulations.
It should be the best in the world against the best in the world. Period.
Instead, this rule that limits only two gymnasts from each country completely prohibits that. The top countries that have worked to obtain a justifiable advantage are punished, and the competitive balance is ruined.
Fortunately for Wieber, this rule that doesn't allow for the best gymnasts to compete for the title of, you know, "best gymnast" doesn't have to ruin her London experience.
It just has to sour it a little.
For one, she handled the defeat—although calling it a defeat is a little preposterous—like a true champion (according to a statement, via Yahoo!):
"It is a bit of a disappointment. It has always been a dream of mine to compete in the all-around final of the Olympics but I’m proud of Aly and Gabby."
Additionally, she still has the all-around team competition—the Americans predictably rolled to a first-place finish in qualifying—to prove her worth.
It's likely a bitter consolation prize for Wieber, who became the most recent victim of an unfathomable rule, but it will give the young American a chance to truly dominate and show the International Olympic Committee the error of its ways.