So I realize that the entire gymnastics world is talking about one of three things right now… Paul Hamm’s withdrawl from the US Men’s Olympic Team, the alleged age falsification of some Beijing-bound athletes, and the Dominque Moceanu/Jennifer Sey “stuff.”  All of these things have certainly been on my mind of late and I have been preparing a post regarding the Sey controversy, but for now, I’m going to keep things on the lighter side.

I wrote a post last Fall about the ten things I dislike in the world of gymnastics and thought I should counter balance it with a list of ten things that I do like.  I find myself complaining about the current state of gymnastics far too often.  I thought it would be fun to remind myself of what is good about our sport right now.  Without further ado…

  • I like the return of the aerial cartwheel on Beam.  Yes, I suppose it’s overused already (what isn’t with this code?  Wait, this is a positive list…)  but it’s a gorgeous skill when done well.
  • Mattie Larson.  Isn’t she fun?  She has such spunk and seems so unaffected by the things that have happened this year.  We need more athletes like her, with expressiveness on the apparatus and clean, precise execution.    I hope she recovers well from her stress fracture and look forward to seeing her in the years to come.

  • Cheng Fei sticking around for another Olympic Games and looking better than ever.  China hardly ever has athletes compete for as long as Cheng.  I hope she wins big on Vault in Beijing.
  • NCAA gymnastics.   I think most of us would agree that collegiate gymnastics is a good thing.  It’s team-oriented, less taxing than elite and just so fun to watch.   And I especially like seeing more international athletes being able to take part.
  • Russia’s recent resurgence.   It seems like the Russian women have been in the team mix of late.  I’ve enjoyed seeing the return of their classical style and hope to see them challenge for a bronze in a few weeks.
  • Big and more diverse tumbling on the Woman’s side.  It seemed like the last quad (and the one before that for that matter) was void of the big skills on floor.  I’m enjoying the resurgence of skills like the double layout, the double-twisting double back and the arabian double pike.  Shawn Johnson’s routine is a perfect example.  She’s got a double-double, a triple twist, some front tumbling, and she closes with a full-twisting double back.

  • Raj Bhavsar making the US Team after Hamm’s withdrawl.  He should have been on the 2004 Team and I’m thrilled he will be on this one.
  • Fabian Hambuechen.  What’s not to like about this guy?  He does excellent gymnastics, seems like a kind and jovial person, and could possible upset the reigning All Around Champion, Yang Wei.   It’s a bit of a long shot but it would sure be fun to see him give Yang a run for his money, don’t you think?
  • Beth Tweddle’s rocking bar set.  She’s clean, original and daring.   Although she is upstaged a bit by Nastia Liukin and He Kexin, I’d like to see her up on the Olympic podium.

  • Oksana Chusovitina & Jordan Jotchev.  As they head into their umpteenth Olympic Games, these two gymnasts continue to show us that you can perform quality gymnastics well into your 30’s.   Let’s encourage this sort of longevity in our sport.

That’s my top ten…  What would you add to this list?  Got some things that you like?

Side note about comments:  I’ve recently had to delete some comments due to their, uhh, inappropriateness.  Please keep all comments respectful of one another and respectful of the athletes about which you comment.    Thanks.  -Nance

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