Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Curse: Vault Finals

We all know about "the curse" surrounding the all around world champion from the year before the Olympics, but does that curse stop at all around finals?
The All Around curse dates back to the 1950's, broken only by LilyPod in 1995-1996. In this post, I'm going to look at the Vault finals, and look for a similar curse from 1996 onward.

Atlanta 1996
Going into the Games, Simona Amanar lead the field after winning the World Championships in Sabae Japan from 1995. In Atlanta, Simona held onto her title and won the gold medal on vault.

Sydney 2000
One of the few competitions in Sydney in which the results are valid, Elena Zamolodchikova came into the Games as the one to beat from the Tianjin World Championships. In the vault final, Zamolodchikova reclaimed her title once again, proving thus far, the curse doesn't exist in the vault finals.

Athens 2004
Going into Athens, the then 28 year old Oksana Chusovitina took the gold on the vault after 2 amazing vaults, the same ones she competed in London, the Handspring Rudi that bears her name and the Tsukahara Rudi.  One year later, after crashing on her first vault, Chusovitina lost her title to Romanian Monica Rosu, establishing a modern day curse.

Beijing 2008
Going into Beijing, Chinese vault superstar Cheng Fei was the HEAVY favorite after dominating the quad, winning the world championships in 2005, 2006, and 2007, with her super difficult 6.5 Amanar  and Cheng vaults.  This just goes to show that anything can happen in gymnastics, and difficulty    equals risk, which doesn't always equal reward (as we'll see in London).  After falling short on her  second vault, North Korea's Hong Un Jong, the fourth place finisher from 2008 took the gold.

London 2012 
I highly doubt there is anyone reading this that doesn't know this story, but for arguments sake, here it is.  American McKayla Maroney came into the games as the best vaulter in the world from world championships in Tokyo 2011.  After a near perfect Amanar in team finals, McKayla had all the confidence that came with that, as well as a lot of pressure.  She didn't get enough height, fell on her second vault, the Mustafina, and "settled" for silver, while Sandra Izbasa came and took the gold by .2.  

As you can see by the analysis above, the curse that exists in the all around final wasn't truly established until Athens.  We'll just have to wait and see until Rio.

1 comment:

  1. Simona Amanar wasn't the reigning world champion at the 1996 Olympics. Gina Gogean was.
    And Rosu would have won in 2004 whether Chusovitina fell or not.
    The past 2 Olympics (2008 and 2012) may be the beginning of a curse, though. If it happens in 2016, then it definitely is one.