Is Gymnastics’ Scoring System Injuring Athletes? – Facts So Romantic


It happened in an instant: a resounding crack and the bottom half of French gymnast Samir Ait Said’s leg was dangling like a marionette’s, his face contorted in pain. At the Rio Olympics, Said had just performed a thrilling triple backflip on the vault. When he landed, his leg snapped on impact. Said’s shot at grace, his relentless pursuit of perfection, had ended in horror.

The injury came just minutes after German gymnast Andreas Toba landed awkwardly after a twisting somersault during a floor exercise, wrenching his knee. His teammate, Gabian Ham, spoke out. “It’s a pity that gymnastics has developed the way it has. Everyone is chasing more and more difficulty, more risk. Everyone wants new records so it’s getting dangerous.” Ham called out the culprit: the open-ended scoring system.

In the past, gymnastics’ scoring system was based on a single variable: execution. Gymnasts began with a start value, determined by judges, based on the level of skills to be performed. The top start value was 10. Gymnasts were penalized for their mistakes. Or not. In 1976, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci famously earned the first perfect 10 in the Olympics. Numerous gymnasts earned 10s in the…


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