Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What if: Alicia Sacramone Olympic Beam Medalist?

I know, it sounds completely crazy, but hear me out. Alicia had arguably one of the worst Olympic experiences ever, what with falling twice during team finals, and then getting robbed of a medal in the vault final, the only one she qualified for. However, did you know that she was less than .025 from qualifying? For more, read on
Jordyn Wieber has become a verb. After the last Olympics, getting 'Jordan Wiebered' is the equivalent of being the third best gymnast of a country, and thus getting 'two per country'ed out of finals. But, maybe we should have called Jordyn Wieber's fourth place in the world qualification getting 'Sacramone'ed.

Here are Team USA's beam scores from qualifications in 2008
 Shawn Johnson (USA)


 Nastia Liukin (USA)


 Bridget Sloan (USA)


 Alicia Sacramone (USA)


As you can see, Alica missed out on beam finals by .025, and didn't get knocked out by anyone but her own teammates. Morever, her d score, 6.8, meant that if she had gotten one more 9.2 e-score, she would have knocked out Shawn Johnson, the eventual champion, because Sacramone's e-score was higher. Here's a video of Alica's qualification beam routine.

This means that if she hadn't put a leg up on her back tuck, Shawn Johnson would not be an Olympic Champion, and Alica might have been an individual Olympic Medalist. Isn't that crazy?

Now, from a pessimist's point of view, she might have fallen in the beam final, like in the team final, though I find that unlikely, considering how uncharacteristic the fall was. From Team USA's point of view, they still went 1-2 in the final, so there would have been no benefit to them. But for Sacramone fans like me, a beam medal would have been wonderful redemption.

I'm undecided on the value of the 2 per country rule. On one hand, the Olympics are THE TOP international sporting event, and thus should represent the top sporting talent. On the other hand, the Olympics are a representation of INTERNATIONAL talent, and so allowing more countries to participate is beneficial. Also, I think one country taking the whole podium wouldn't be good for the sport. This is particularly important as we witness USA's rise, and they're showing no signs of stopping. To not allow other countries to have a fighting chance for medals seems unfair to me.

One thing is clear. Wieber was not the only athlete 'robbed' of a final.

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