3 things I dislike in the world of Gymnastics…
- Tank leotards in competition. They seem unprofessional. Call me old-fashioned but I just don’t like it. I know that some athletes think a sleeveless look will give them longer lines and make them more aesthetically appealing to the audience and judges. But I’m not sure I buy it. If you don’t have the look, you don’t have it and showing the skin on your arms won’t make that big of a difference. A gymnast wears a tank leotard pretty much every single day in practice. Is it too much to ask that when it’s competition time she put away the tank and put on the long-sleeved? It’s like showing up to a formal dance in a sun dress. It just doesn’t look right. And besides…it’s tradition and I’m a sucker for tradition.
- Gym shoes. They are just so unattractive. Wearing them on Vault is one thing. It helps some athletes grip the runway better as they run and prevents slipping on the board. But on the Beam? What is up with that? It completely cuts off the line of the leg and you lose the point of the toe in the leather. I know that some gymnasts like the traction provided by the shoe when working on the Beam and I would not encourage a gymnast to do something unsafe. If an athlete absolutely must wear them in order to feel secure up there, I’m not about to stop them. But seriously…it doesn’t look good. And gymnastics is supposed to look good. At least put on a Beam shoe (the kind with the straps that cross in the front – think Dominique Moceanu circa 1996) rather than a Vault shoe if you need them on Beam.
Exception to #2: Nadia Comaneci. She must have had shoes that were not near as thick as those of today’s variety because you could hardly tell she had them on. See photo above for proof. They took away nothing from the lines of her legs and her overall artistic presentation, which, in 1976, was in a class all it’s own. And I’ll admit that when I was 6 I was totally into the Beam shoes so I could look like Nadia. Who didn’t want to be like Nadia?
- The leg-up full turn. I can’t tell you how many of the female gymnasts performed this move at the World Championships in Denmark last month. The skill obviously gets some decent bonus in this new code of points but it is out of control. I saw probably a total of 50 during the Worlds coverage (counting some athletes multiple times) and only about 2 that were done well. And on floor it’s the leg-up double turn. Again, very few done well. It’s unfortunate because when done correctly (on Floor and Beam), the leg-up turn can be breathtaking. Until then, the madness with this skill has got to stop. I’m thinking about starting a petition to remove it from the code of points until further notice. Who’s with me?