Sep 13, 2008

The Perfect Ten

I think I must be one of the least athletic people I know. I've never done any sports - I find them all incredibly boring, and I've always had a good figure so I never had to do anything. Actually, I find sports SO boring, I've never even followed any. Except gymnastics. Gymnastics is something special. I don't know why I love it so much... I guess it's just something I grew up with. I stopped following the sport during the 2004 Olympics. I was already pissed off slightly because of the vault scandal at the 2000 Olympics (Sydney) which ruined Svetlana Khorkina's chances of winning the all-around title. When the 2004 Olympics in Athens provided an even bigger scandal I decided to just stop watching. Alexei Nemov was given an abominable score despite his excellent performance, so that Paul Hamm, who fell flat on his ass could win the all-around gold.
Now there is a completely new scoring system that I'm not familiar with, and the American and Chinese domination just don't do it for me somehow. I think the new scoring system has diminished the beauty of the sport, forcing the gymnasts to just do high difficulty routines without much concern for beauty, grace and artistic elements. It's all just crass acrobatics now. Not my cup of tea.
Anyway, last night I was surfing the web, and you know how these things go - sometimes you just end up somewhere although you have no idea how. I ended up watching videos of Nadia Comaneci's perfect tens (the first in the history of the sport) from the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The gymnasts I grew up watching were Svetlana Khorkina, Lavinia Milosovici, Simona Amanar... Nadia was before my time, and I hardly ever saw her routines. Having watched a bunch of these videos last night, I'm in awe. I now see that my heroines have nothing on her, let alone today's gymnasts - I'm sure she could kick their ass in her sleep. Take a look at the video of two of her perfect 10 performances - both on the uneven bars. I particularly love the first dismount - she literally flies! Her skill is amazing - she owns the bars. I don't remember ever seeing anyone with such incredible control. Truly spectacular!

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James said...

I remember watching these live (I'm just a tad older than you, Natasha). Nadia was simply amazing in all of her performances.

In many ways, she was like the later Oksana Bayul, who blew away Nancy Kerrigan with clearly superior skill and grace ... yet, barely beat Nancy (with Americans screaming that their Skating Queen had been robbed).

James said...

As a side note, I remember people being confused seeing "1.00" on the scores when they first came up. The displays weren't built to show a full "10.00" ... so, the judges or techs put up "1.00" which had to be explained.

If memory serves correctly, there were a few boos from the crowd.