I decided, like Blythe over at the gymblog, to attempt to enjoy the Olympics old school-style and wait for the primetime coverage in the evenings, rather than reading all the spoilers online.  It really is so much more fun to watch the action unfold as opposed to reading about it.    I’ll admit that it was extremely difficult to wait, knowing that all the news was one click away.    I avoided email, newspapers, phone calls… but it was definitely worth the wait.  I am glad that the Team Finals and All Around will be live, though, since I don’t know how long I would be able to hold out.    Now that the Women’s Prelims are over, here are eight of my thoughts on the competition (based on NBCs coverage).

From nastialiukin.com

  • Samantha Peszek… what a heartbreak.  To injure yourself just minutes before the biggest competition of your life is completely devastating.  And since she was a longshot for making the All Around or Event Finals, her time to shine was in the team competition.  I hope she’s able to recover enough to compete some in the Team Finals.
  • Although I was only able to see Anna Pavlova on Floor, she looks to be in great shape and I read this morning that she made all the finals sans Bars.  She deserved to be on the All Around podium in Athens so here’s to hoping that she gets some Olympic hardware this time around. 
  • Alicia Sacramone is an amazing athlete.  I’m sorry that she did not make the floor final and wish her well on Vault.  But I’m wondering if anyone else is bothered by her hair?  Is it a ponytail?  A bun?   Seriously?    This is the Olympics.  One would think she might spruce it up for the biggest competition of her life.  Maybe I’m just old fashioned.    As my sister (not a gymnast) said “I used to pull my hair back like that when I was studying for finals in college.”  Enough said on the subject.\
  • I was planning to stay above the fray on the age controversy but when I saw Deng Linlin‘s face on my screen last night, I thought “you have got to be kidding me.  This is the face of a 16-year-old?”  Maybe but I’m not buying it.   Check her out on youtube from earlier this year and you be the judge.

  • I think the hardest part of the evening was seeing Chellsie Memmel’s fall off of Uneven Bars.  I had literally just relaxed a bit on the couch thinking “ok, I can relax, Chellsie always hits.”  I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever seen her fall.  Not since 2003 at least.  What a disappointment for her.  To have come so far, to have made such a valiant comeback to make the Olympic team and then to injure her ankle just days before the competition.  I’m certain she could have challenged Johnson and Liukin for those All Around spots if not for the injury.  I think we all consoled ourselves with the knowledge that she would still get to compete for the team on Bars, her best event, with a shot at making the Bar finals.
  • Cheng Fei looked great on the two events I saw.  I’ll be checking out her Beam routine on NBCs site shortly.  She certainly looks like she’ll be tough to beat in the event finals.
  • Despite the random fall on her dismount off Bars, Nastia Liukin sure looked right on the money in Prelims.  She rocked Floor, Vault & Beam and if she can clean up that dismount on Bars, she just might take the title from Shawn Johnson (who continues to look unbeatable time and again) in the All Around Final.  I have been pleasantly surprised by her steady improvement in her stamina and overall fitness since her ankle injury.  There was a time when I thought she would never look quite as good as she did in her pre-2007 days but she continues to prove me wrong.  She looks to be peaking at just the right time.    Regardless of which American ends up on top (or someone else entirely), it should be quite a show.  I can’t wait.
  • Yang Yilin does not look healthy to me.  She looks underweight.  Did anyone else feel this way?

A few bonus thoughts since catching up with some of the other competitors online…

  • It’s a shame we won’t be seeing the likes of Dasha Joura or Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs in the event finals.
  • I wish we could have seen more of the Romanian athletes.  I haven’t seen a single thing from Nistor or Izbasa yet.
  • I’m pleased the Beth Tweddle squeaked into the Bars Final.

And a few thoughts from the Men’s Prelims

  • Having seen only a few routines during NBCs coverage, it’s hard to get a feel for the Men’s competition but I was thrilled with two things in particular based on the primetime coverage: Raj Bhavsar‘s performances (I wish he had made the All Around final – did he compete in the All Around?) and Sasha‘s rocking set on Pommels.
  • I’m so disappointed for Kyle Shewfelt.  I really wanted to see him challenge for titles on Floor & Vault.  I’ve read the rumors of unfair judging but have yet to come to my own conclusion since I only saw a smattering of routines on NBC’s coverage.
  • I was surprised by Yang Wei’s rookie mistake on P-Bars.  Makes you wonder if it’s a shadow of things to come for China in the Team or All Around Finals.

So those are my thoughts.  What did you think of the Prelims?    See you tomorrow with thoughts on the Mens Team Finals.

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