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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Japan Wins Silver In Gymnastics Amid Controversy

At the 2012 London Olympics on Monday, Japan won the silver in the men's team gymnastics... pretty much where they were expected to be.. only this time it was won amid some controversy.

After three-time world-champion Uchimura Kohei (surname first) was performing on the last event - the pommel horse, Uchimura needed only 14 points to ensure Japan of the Silver Medal - China having already clinched the Gold.

After almost completing a flawless routine, Uchimura was supposed to do a handstand on his dismount, but appeared to slip and fall sideways, recovering enough to land on his feet.

Check out the photo above... does that look like a good dismount? 

However, his failure to complete the handstand pretty much wiped out his performance and took Japan completely out of the medals to fourth place. The judges had awarded him a 5.4 for difficulty and an overall score of 13.466.

China - Gold
Great Britain - Silver
Ukraine - Bronze.
Japan - 4th place participant's ribbon.

The hometown crowd went wild with Princes William and Harry in attendance applauding the unlikely outcome that had Great Britain grab a Silver! And the Ukraine was also celebrating their unlikely Bronze.

But then... Japan's coaches launched themselves at the judges table to appeal claiming that his dismount should have been worth more points - that he actually did complete the handstand.

After five-minutes and six judges clustered around a monitor watching the dismount frame by frame, the judges agreed with the coaches and gave Uchimura an added seven-tenths for his dismount. This addition bumped Japan up to the silver!

Final Results:
China - Gold
Japan - Silver
Great Britain - Bronze
Ukraine - Robbed.

"At the very beginning it was fourth for Japan so I couldn't say anything. I couldn't think anything," a somber Uchimura said. "I was thinking, 'It's fourth, it's fourth.' Even after it was changed, I was not too happy."

Uchimura should be pretty damned happy. There is no way he should have received consideration for difficulty and definitely should not have got the point boost for failing to do a dismount!

Look at that photo above again! Uchimura was out of control. He was upset immediately following the event because he knew he had cost Japan a medal... he knew he had blown it.   

If Uchimura did have his arms extended straight as in a handstand, it was actually done sideways as he was already in the process of pushing himself away from the pommel horse to ensure he didn't brain himself as he slipped trying to do the handstand!

There is no other way to look at that video and think he performed the dismount. The initial result should have been preserved. Japan should have been out of the medals, and the Ukraine should have one more.

This is why I hate sports where you have to be judged! Don;t get me wrong - I think gymnists are amazing athletes... but watching Great Britain and poor, poor Ukraine get jobbed was a horrible miscarriage.

Japan got the silver - deserves it because their appeal was upheld... but that doesn't mean it was deserved.

Andrew Joseph



  1. The whole idea of a subjective judging system for sports is just ridiculous. These athletes' performances are essentially graded by someone's opinion. The very fact that the judges can just add a few more tenths of a point to a contestant's score shows the inherent flaws in this system. I like sports with a clearly defined system. Put the ball in the hoop? He gets 2 points! That's a little more difficult to fudge.

    1. I agree, Jimbo. Sports where there is arbitrary determination of how good one is has always stuck in my craw.
      It's like give five English teachers an English essay to grade... every one will offer a different grade. Generally, in the athletics, they do a fine job of judging, as they see stuff you and I might never... but still... it's someone's opinion of how good you are rather than a time, a weight, a distance or a score... that one with the best - that's the winner. Measuring yourself against yourself and others... you can't do that with judged events.