Friday, August 15, 2008

go uzbekistan go!

In our post-Renaissance society, there is a tendency to value most highly the man or the woman who is the best at everything, but my personal preference in Olympic gymnastics is not for the all-around competitions but for the individual event finals. This is where several relatively unknown gymnasts get their chance to shine, if but for one brief moment, on their element of expertise. True, often the all-around best gymnast figures prominently in these competitions as well, but there is also a good chance that a medal-winning performance on any given apparatus is delivered by a gymnast who did not even qualify for the all-around final.

I have been supplementing the primetime network coverage of Olympic gymnastics, which isn't quite enough for me, with video footage from, whose video offerings essentially allow you to watch every minute of every competition, with the option of focusing on a particular apparatus or a particular grouping of gymnasts. While I haven't the time to watch all of it, I have seen some excellent performances from the preliminary competition that didn't make it to primetime. So, I have my eye on some specific gymnasts that I will be looking out for in the event finals. Most of them are on neither the American nor the Chinese team; indeed, many of them come from countries which do not have a full team competing in this year's Olympic gymnastics competition.

Take a look at my favorite contender on my favorite men's event, at last year's world championships. Not the best quality video, but just try and tell me that's not beautiful gymnastics.

All of my picks, by event:

Floor - Diego Hypolito (Brazil)
Pommel horse - Alexander Artemev (USA)
Rings - Matteo Morandi (Italy)
Vault - Leszek Blanik (Poland)
Parallel bars - Anton Fokin (Uzbekistan)
High bar - Epke Zonderland (Netherlands)
Vault - Anna Pavlova (Russia)
Uneven bars - He Kexin (China)
Balance beam - Nastia Liukin (USA)
Floor - Daiane Santos (Brazil)

For reference, here are the individual event rankings for men and women.

Gymnastics event finals are spread out over three days of competition: Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I'll be watching; will you?

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

Yes, I will be watching! And, I agree that NBC has been cutting gymnastics a bit short. I have been a tad irritated that it's only 30 minutes and at the VERY end of the broadcast. I can't wait for these event finals!