Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fab Five for Rio? An indepth analysis


Following a historic second team gold medal finish at this years London 2012 Olympics, a lot of buzz has been circulating the internet as to whether or not members of the 'Fierce Five' will continue on training at the elite level in the hopes to make another Olympic berth. While it obviously is way to early to even prognosticate such a scenario, we can take a look back at gymnasts from previous Olympic teams in the modern area to 'get a feel' of their chances, if you will.

The Barcelona Team consisted of all first time Olympians who were all younger than 20 years of age. Bruce, the oldest member of the team attempted a comeback for the 1996 team but retired in 1994. Betty Okino was the only member of the team to immediately retire following Barcelona. Strug, Dawes, Zmeskal and Miller continued to train at the elite level. Zmeskal had several injuries during this quadrennium, leaving her unable to compete for the 96 team.



Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Wendy Bruce, Kerri Strug, Elizabeth "Betty" Okino, Kim Zmeskal


In 1996, 3 athletes named to the squad were Barcelona Olympians. Miller, Dawes, and Strug all continued to train after the games and picked up several world medals in between. New additions to the team were Borden who attempted a berth on the '92 team but placed out of contention, Moceanu, Phelps and Chow.




Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden, Dominique Dawes, Jaycee PhelpsDominique Moceanu,
Shannon Miller.

In 2000, Dawes and Chow were named to the team, along with newcomers Dantzscher, Maloney, Schwikert and Ray. The only '96 Olympian who did not continue training in hopes to make the 2000 team was Amanda Borden.



Dominique Dawes, Jamie Dantzscher, Amy Chow,  Elise Ray, Kristen Maloney, Tasha Schwikert.

2004 proved to be the year of the first timers, with no repeat Olympians joining the team. Mohini Bhardwaj competed at the 1996 Olympic trials but failed to earn a berth on the team. Tasha Schwikert was the only 2000 Olympian to attempt a repeat this quadrenium, earning an alternate position.




Courtney McCool, Annia Hatch*, Carly Patterson, Courtney Kupets, Mohini Bhardwaj, Terin Humphrey.

In 2008, the team again consisted of first time Olympians. Alicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel both tried to make the 2004 team but failed to qualify – Memmel earned an alternate position on the team.



 Shawn Johnson,  Nastia LiukinChellsie MemmelSamantha Peszek, Alicia SacramoneBridget Sloan


During the 2012 season, every previous Olympian made a bid at a London berth except Samantha Peszek. As you can see, although many try, a repeat Olympic berth is rare, but not impossible. It will be done again, the only question remains, who will be the select few to do so? Will any of the 2008 Olympians give it a go for Rio? Will any of the ''Fierce Five'' stick around for their second chance? Only time will tell. Remember, a LOT can happen in 4 years. Injuries, growth spurts and other circumstances will surely arise.

Notes

16 out of 26 athletes making an Olympic team in modern times have continued to train at the elite level following their Olympic berth. Returning Olympians are only counted once in tabulation.

4 out of 26 athletes have ever returned for a subsequent Olympic Games. Returning Olympians are only counted once in the tabulation.  Returning Olympians are bold.

*Annia Hatch qualified for the 1996 Olympics but didn't attend.

Athletes who are underlined represent those who attempted to make a subsequent or previous Olympics but failed to qualify to the team, or those who secured an alternate spot.

Athletes who are indented represent those who've continued to train elite level past being named to an Olympic team but who did not attempt to make another berth on an Olympic team.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Douglas is Golden

                                               

Gabby Douglas scored a record 62.232 to clench the highly coveted WAG AA Olympic Gold Medal today in historic fashion.   Considered somewhat of a long-shot underdog last year, Douglas soared to national and international heights this year with a unofficial first place finish at the American Cup, a solid second place finish at the Visa National Championships and  a win at the Olympic trials securing the only birth directly to the Olympic team.  

Douglas and her teammate Aly Raisman beat heavy favorite Jordyn Wieber for the two top spots in the qualifying round on day one of these games, and performed at her peak during the team final helping USA to bring home their first gold medal in the Team Finals since 1996.  

She joins the exclusive club of American gymnasts to win the AA title which include Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson, and Nastia Liukin - and is the first African American woman to do so in the history of the sport.

1)  First African American female gymnast to win the Olympic AA gold medal.
2)  First American female gymnast to win both an Olympic Team gold medal and Olympic AA gold medal.
3)  First American female gymnast to follow up a gold medal in the team event at the World Championships with an Olympic gold medal in the team event.
4)  First American female gymnast to follow up a gold medal in the team event at the World Championships with an Olympic gold medal in the team event and top that feat off with an Individual AA gold medal at the Olympic Games.

She truly has broke many records at this Olympic Games and continues to show dominance over the rest of the field.  

Congratulations Gabby!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WAG AA Preview


      Tomorrow one of the most coveted prizes in the sport of Womens Artistic Gymnastics will be 
awarded to the top female athlete on the globe.    After a surprising qualification round, the current reigning World All Around Champion Jordyn Wieber failed to advance, edged out by fellow teammates and newly crowned Olympic Champions Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas.    

      The top qualifier, Viktoria Komova seems to have a slight edge over the competition, but victory won't come easy for Komova.   Her likely opponent will be the breakout star of this year from the USA, Gabby Douglas, who's all around total from the team final of 61.465 edged Komova's qualifying score of 60.632.   Trailing closely behind is Aly Raisman who qualified for the all around in second.   

     Aliya Mustafina secured the second qualifying spot behind her teamate Komova with a score of 59.966, and while that may seem a sizable margin to the untrained eye, everyone familiar with this sport knows that that deficit could easily be reduced in an instant if one of the contenders happens to have an error, fall or steps out of bounds.   Aliya Mustafina is the 2010 World All Around Champion, and despite her injury in 2011 and lengthy recuperation has shown that she can contend for a medal in this final.   

    Larissa Iordache, the 'star' of the Romanian team who was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis of the heel last week still contends for a medal, and is slated to perform in the all around.   Her performance in qualifying was hampered no doubt by that injury - but she can not be counted out.   

   This final promises to be a nail biter, and will be contested on a routine to routine basis.   Expect the final scores to be very close and lots of surprises!  




    

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tips for a better live stream viewing experience

If you're stateside like me and viewing the NBCOLYMPICS.COM live streams for events, you may note some buffering, invasive and repetitive ads and low quality video. For now, it looks like I've found a fix. I have not tested this on a live feed but I am pretty certain it may fix some if not most problems.

  First, I highly recommend using Google Chrome. Firefox and IE have known issues with longer video files when it comes to parsing and buffering and use a different technology which is leading to some skipping (HTML5). Google Chrome continues to use an older technology that is quicker, producing a much better streaming experience.

  After installing Google Chrome, download the extension ''AdBlock'' (not the 'pro' version, the version with 8Million downloads is what you want). You can install it by clicking on the little wrench on the upper right hand side of the browser, go down to settings, click extensions and ''get more extensions''. Again make sure it's not the ''pro/beta'' version. Select it and install it, once it's installed, reset your browser.

Lastly, increase the buffer in your flash stream.    Right click directly on the video, and click settings.  There should be an area where you can increase the buffer that the streaming site uses on your computer.  You want to bump that over to ''10MB'' .



 I've tried this on my main computer and a very old laptop and it works perfectly on both systems. It appears the ads are sucking up ram bigtime to give realtime ads.

  This technique also seems to remove the ads during video play.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

News from the 'Bee Farm'


    [This is a parody of several poorly google-translated articles from rsport.ru, enjoy!]


 At the Olympics in London will go to 10 Russian gymnasts. As part of the women's team - Ksenia Afanasyeva, Anastasia Grishina, Victoria Komova, Aliya Mustafina and Maria Bee Farm!  Women will compete for medals from four countries, perhaps even intervene and fifth!  " In 2010 came Aliya Mustafina and Tatiana Nabieva, next year - Victoria Komova, then - Anastasia Grishina and Maria Bee Farm. I'm sure the girls will try to make anything to please you and myself - because in preparation for the Olympics has been done very much work. "

 "I may be, a leader in the floor exercise, but they are leaders in all-around and more will help the team - added the agency interlocutor. - I know that I can help the team in floor exercise and, perhaps, on a log." said Afanasyeva.  "Alia, from my point of view, a unique man." "She knows how to assemble, and once configured internally - continued Afanasyev. - It is a strong man and, according to the 2010 World Cup and the fact that it is now almost regained its strong program - it has many chances to perform well at the Olympics."

   Coach of Russia called the main problem the team a jump of 2.5 screws that will certainly need to prepare for the Olympics. You have managed to restore the jump?  "I try to restore it. Without this jump will be really really hard to deal with the same American. "  said Aliya Mustafin, in response to her questions about difficulty. 

 Gymnasts Russian team must prepare for the Olympic Games in London vault 2.5 screws to fight on equal terms with the American team, said the agency "F-Sport" head coach of the women's national team Alexander Alexandrov.

"It is very important for everyone. And gymnasts would be easier to win the individual medal, and the team would have taken out such support would be jumping to another level. All American who will fight for the all-around, they will jump 2.5 screws. In other projectiles at them has its problems, but not so serious, so they can be called the holes ", - said Alexander.


"We need this jump 2.5 screw, and hopefully our apiary can save us come these London Vault games!  To compete with the likes of Choose The Jordin, Alexander Reisman and Makkeyla Meroni, we will have to use as many 2.5 screws as possible, but with Maria Bee Farm, Viktoria Komoa and Alia Mustafin, it is not an impossible scenario", continued Alexander.  



"No matter how hard we were not, in London, we're going to win medals," - said Alexander.

Russian Olympic team will fly to London on July 21.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Leyva, Orozco Olympians

 Photo via USA Gymnastics

Following the second day of competition for the men at the 2012 Olympic Trials in
San Jose, CA - Danell Leyva and John Orozco were named as the first two members
of the team that will represent the USA in London.

Orozco started off strong, but some uncharacteristic problems on Parallel bars prevented
him from clenching the top spot.  He seemed to have a problem with his right thumb,
clenching it and wincing after the routine was over and it was later revealed he had some
minor cramping in the hand which effected the thumb.

Danell Leyva continued to show why he is a strong contender for an AA spot on the
podium in London with several clutch routines.   Although he watered down his vault
and switched some things up on bars, he snagged the top spot and clenched his berth.

What a great day!   The rest of the team will be announced tomorrow @ 10AM and
will be presented at the conclusion of the ladies event at 10:50PM EST on NBC.

Congratulations guys!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Off Balance Memoir

The 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist and 1998 Goodwill Games Gold Medalist shares some of
her triumphs, tragedies, and harrowing experiences in this must-read. 

Dominique Moceanu minces no words in her latest autobiography entitled ''Off Balance''.


Moceanu, who's historically offered scathing reviews of the Karolyi training system, offers up
deeper insights to the abusive, often cruel and downright inhumane treatment she claims to have
experienced during her time with Bela and Marta.  

The spritely ''pixie'' wowed audiences during her 1996 Olympic Games performances, but behind
the scenes, Moceanu reveals a dark and tumultuous time in her life leading up to and following
the games - sometimes forcing her to question her own self worth and fear the very people who
were responsible for her success and upbringing.

Moceanu is not the first gymnast to come forward accusing the Karolyi's of abusive practices,
(a laundry list of former athletes including Chelle Stack, Kristie Phillips, Erica Stokes,
 Emilia Eberle, Ecaterina Szabo and Rodica Dunca have all told similar tales of abuse and
medical neglect by the hands of the Karolyi's),  she is however the first to come forward in
such a direct, and quite frankly brave fashion.

Moceanu also details a heart wrenching relationship with her mercurial father Dumitru, citing
numerous instances of physical and mental abuse, financial abuse and even a death threat
launched at Moceanu's former coach.

As dark as the moments become in this book, it is delicately offset by some beautiful moments on
the other end of the spectrum.   Meeting her long lost sister Jennifer, finding the love of her life
Michael, and the birth of her children bring the reader to a safe harbor after the long and often
volatile journey.   This story is of tragedy, but it is also a story of hope.  

I highly recommend this read to not only fans of gymnastics, but fans of sport and triumph over
tragedy in general.