I knew there was a reason gymnastics was hard to watch. Not because the feats are hard to do. But because if someone falls … it’s the worst feeling in the world. No, it literally hurts. This isn’t a metaphor. A straight shiv to the kidney. I’m actually bleeding, and I probably should have gone to the hospital hours ago.
And a bevy of mothers and empathetic citizens of the world probably ache as well for the unfortunate competitors who take a spill. In this case, the competitor is US gymnast Alicia Sacramone, who fell twice in the team gymnastics competition yesterday. This helped vault China toward the gold medal with a final score of 188.9, beating the Americans by two points.
Clearly Sacramone’s life is over. All she has left to fall back on is an Olympic silver medal, an Ivy League education (she goes to Brown University), and her looks. Tough break, kid.
C’mon. Nobody — outside of some troglodytic rabid fan that has to legally inform neighbors of his presence whenever he moves somewhere — is going to condemn the 20-year-old Sacramone like they might, say, 20-year-old kickers who shank field goals in a big college football rivalry game. Or a 22-year-old baseball pitcher blowing two World Series games. Given everything that goes into training for the Olympics, coupled with how much emotional stock and Vegas odds we Americans put into gymnastics, nobody can be called a loser when they leave China with a shiny medal around their neck.
Hey, it would’ve been cool if they won gold. But it’s not the only medal they’re handing out in Beijing, they’re not getting paid to compete, and life moves on.
And, honestly, in about three days I’m probably going to forget about those falls. It’s safe to say most others will too.
Maybe “forget” is the wrong word. Perhaps instead we’ll try to put it out of our mind, because it was just not a fun sports moment. In contrast, the six Chinese girls, who were separated from their families so they could learn master flips and twists since the age of 3, were rewarded with gold, something female Chinese gymnasts have never done before. That was fun to see. Even if Bela Karolyi fervently believes they’re 14 years old.
(While we’re on that subject, how the hell is competing someone younger than the age minimum considered gaining an advantage? They’re less experienced. Less developed. It’s basically the exact opposite of the Danny Almonte gambit. If going young was a smart move, the Park County pee wee hockey team would have trounced the Detroit Red Wings.)
In fact, I know I will probably forget the falls. In fact, just recently I read that the US women’s gymnastics team also made crucial errors in the 2004 Olympics, which cost them gold. Fascinating! Because I don’t remember that at all. So hopefully the un-fun memory leaves my brain sometime in the near … wait, who’s this Alicia girl? She’s cute. Is she a gymnast?
(Photo credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)