Saturday, April 6, 2013

Missed Medal: Jiang Yuyuan 2008 Olympics Floor Exercise Final

 credits unknown, but isn't she a cutie?
Of course, one of the most hotly contested gymnastics events during the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the uneven bars final, with that mess between He Kexin, Yang Yilin, Nastia Liukin, and Beth Tweddle. (for what it's worth, I'm of the opinion that Yang Yilin was the clear winner) A less debated topic is the floor final. I firmly believe that Jiang Yuyuan should have ended up with the bronze. For why, see below

So, in case you haven't watched these finals, (you should actually probably watch the whole Olympics; there were lots of stars in 2008) here are the results.
click to enlarge

Never mind the controversy of Izbasa and Johnson, what I'm upset about is the fact that Nastia placed over Jiang. Nastia Liukin had the highest e-score of the competition with a double front like this.

screenshotted from a youtube video
And before you tell me that this is actually how the move should be, take a look at this. This is what a double front is supposed to look like.

 photo ivana-hong-double-front-o.gif
credits to
Let's compare, once again, just for kicks

Yes, she does stick the landing, but it doesn't make up for the fact that her feet literally point out. She is flexing more than Aly Raisman on bars. And we haven't even started talking about her twisting form. I'll be using both screenshots and gifs to make my point, because I'm just overkill like that.

You know how we always bemoan crossed legs and bad twisting as the EPITOME of bad form? How Mustafina is a bad gymnast because her form is SO SO bad because she has horribly crossed legs when she twists? Well, Miss Queen of Artistry and Form also has pretty darn crossed ankles. And yes, I know that it doesn't really compare to the crossed at the knees twists of Ponor and Mustafina, but nobody ever gives kudos to them for their form and execution.

see those crossed ankles?
Now, there's a point to all this Nastia bashing, I swear. And I think Nastia is a great gymnast, but her form wasn't perfect, and thus she shouldn't be treated as the queen of gymnastics. While her vault was clean, and she performed skills she could complete, she always cowboyed the only two salto skills she did (the double front off bars and the double front on floor).

But anyway, my point is that Jiang Yuyuan should have gotten the bronze over Nastia. Yes, I suppose I am biased, and I really wanted her to take home an individual medal at her home Olympics. If you only watched the all around, your impression of her would have been her sat down Amanar. She was crashing it all Olympics, but she actually had a pretty great one. Check out this one from Chinese Nationals below.

This is a pretty stunning vault, even when compared with the top few today

A fall on this vault took her out of the All Around, but she still had a floor final to compete in. When Cheng Fei, the top qualifier, fell, it left an opportunity. And by all means, Jiang's Routine is pretty great. See below:

I just don't see how Liukin ended up with a higher e-score than her. Jiang's twisting form is basically deductionlesss. Her legs remain completely straight. Back in this code, there was no deduction for a lunge backwards, so she shouldn't get marked off there. All of her dance elements (leaps and spins) look good. The only thing I can think of is that she had a bit of a low landing on her double pike, but that's it.  And how can you say she isn't artistic? She moves to the music and connects with the crowd, plus she looks like she's having fun. Jiang also had the d-score advantage. This medal should have been hers. Better difficulty + better form should equal higher score. It's a shame that she left without an individual medal.


  1. Biasness, that's why. Liukin's always been quite favoured with the judges for some reason and even though she favours forward tumbling, I agree with you that her knees are too far apart!

    1. Exactly, especially when she was suddenly being scored so high on floor during the Olympics.

  2. I agree with your point of view completely. I finally found this entry and I've been holding in that opinion since watching it live-broadcasted in 2008. It's a shame that (any) athletes representing the People's Republic of China have to deal with the misconceptions, stereotype, and stigmatization of their home country. Similarly in figure skating (I'm a figure skater, with several friends on the international circuit), almost automatically the Chinese skaters have lower on 'grade of execution'; and almost always the commentators say the "Chinese need more artistry" in their performance. In reality, their skating is so beautiful to watch, and their artistry THERE. it's just DIFFERENT from what the commentators want. I'm glad it's not cheezy and over the top and I appreciate the clean lines (quad twist helps too). I feel like there is a lot of cultural misconceptions that are projected onto these athletes, which is a shame.

    1. The stereotypes really do affect everything, and it's so unfair. Take Jordan Wieber, who actually has really good form (neat legs on vault, hits handstand, etc) and a floor that goes well with the music, but her body type means that people don't consider her artistic at all. NBC loves to coo over Komova's lines and swing, when in reality several athletes (Yao Jinnan and Yang Yilin come to mind) have those stunning pirouettes and lines as well.

      Also, your comment was really insightful. Would you maybe be interested in blogging as well? If so, shoot me an email at :)