Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gym Dandy

I am a huge gymnastics fan. I have been for most of my life. I've followed the sport since 1988 and have seen all the Olympics since then as well as most of the national championships, the world championships and other competitions in-between.

Last night, Dear Husband and I watched the Men's Team Final and cheered for the U.S. Team as they won a bronze medal. I generally don't follow the men's team, but it was definitely interesting this year since the team lost its only former Olympians (Paul and Morgan Hamm). That meant that every member of the team was new to the Olympic experience.

It was an interesting competition to be sure. Jonathan Horton was unbelievable on the high bar. I have never seen such an incredible dismount that was stuck so well. Jonathan is from Houston so it was extra special to see him compete knowing he is from here. Another Houstonian on the team is Raj Bhavsar, who I had the privilege of meeting in January when I went to the opening of Kevin Mazeika's gym here in Houston. Mazeika is the coach of the team in Beijing. I enjoyed meeting some of the gymnasts and seeing them perform in an exhibition.

One major surprise in the men's competition was Joseph Hagerty's floor routine. It was a total disaster. I have NEVER, in 20 years of following gymnastics, seen anyone step out of bounds while simply standing there. If a gymnast goes out of bounds on the floor, it's usually because they've over rotated one of their acrobatic passes and the momentum takes them out of bounds. They also may have fallen on the final landing and therefore they stumble out of bounds. In Hagerty's case, he was getting ready to perform an element and in stepping back to take off and tumble, he stepped out of bounds. That was an unusual and unnecessary mistake.

On the positive side was the pommel horse competition, which finished the competition for the U.S. men. It was a demonstration of the melting pot that makes up the United States. The three competitors for our team on that appartus were Raj Bhavsar, who is Indian-American, Kevin Tan, who is Chinese-American, and Alexander (Sasha) Artemev, who is Russian. He came to the United States in 1994 with his parents. He became a citizen of the U.S. just six years ago in 2002. I loved that America was really represented in that competition with athletes who have such diverse backgrounds.

I look forward to the Women's Team Final, which will be on in about 10 minutes. I LOVE that we are able to watch the competition live since Beijing is only 13 hours ahead of Houston. It's very exciting to see it all as it's happening. GO TEAM USA!!

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