Day Seven: Flipping Gymnasts

This morning, I thought I was going to watch the Magnificent Seven go down in history as the second-best U.S. women’s gymnastics team of all time. As you all know by now, that didn’t happen. Sure, it was disappointing to watch our five women lose control of the meet. But it was even more disappointing to hear Marta Karolyi come out to the press area after the awards ceremony and make excuses for her girls.

She blamed the officials for making Alicia Sacramone wait too long before her beam routine and called the tactic “psychological warfare.” She accused one of the Chinese girls who is believed to be underage of having a missing tooth. (Kids lose their teeth at 7, Marta. Not 14.) She waved her arms and raised her voice and thought this would distract the media from the truth: The U.S. did not have the best team today. (Unfortunately, she did a pretty darn good job.)

After the meet, I wrote a piece for about Alicia Sacramone. The hardest thing about the post-medals-ceremony press conference was seeing the look in Sacramone’s eyes. Her mistakes were not the only biffs of the day. But it’s hard not to wonder what would have been had she not fallen, twice. Especially if you’re Alicia Sacramone.

For the piece, I spoke with Dominique Dawes, who was part of that Magnificent Seven team and is here working as a reporter. She had great perspective, and was a great interview. But let’s be honest. She couldn’t relate.

While watching gymnastics this week, I’ve also realized how much I miss the 10-point judging scale. So I gave readers 10 reasons why FIG should bring it back.

After work, I stopped by the USA House, which is near the soccer stadium and boxing arena and is, by far, the most fancy schmancy of all the national houses. Dinner was great. Then my friends Amy, Luke, Kate and I met a few friends at Club Bud and schmoozed until 2 a.m. I walked in the front gate next to Evander Holyfield, and had my first athlete-at-party spotting. Taekwondo athlete Steven Lopez, one of the three Lopez siblings competing here, was hanging outside near the pool drinking water with some pals. He clearly hasn’t finished competing.

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