This evenings Men’s Team Final at the North Greenwich Arena was incredible. I have never seen anything like it. Coming towards the end of the last rotation, it was clear that China had redeemed themselves from their awful qualifying competition to claim their second consecutive Olympic Team gold medals. It was also clear that should Japan not make any mistakes, they would be picking up silver with Great Britain and Ukraine fighting for bronze. The results sure came down to the wire. Great Britain knew a medal was attainable.
Kristian Thomas followed Daniel Purvis who nailed a beautiful stylish routine to earn scores of 15.433 and 15.533 respectively. Combined with Max Whitlock’s 15.133, GB secured the top overall floor score. Reigning 3 time All Around World Champion took to Pommels as Thomas’ score was announced, the crowd erupted yet Uchimura kept his cool. It was only at the last few seconds of the routine as Uchimura set himself up to dismount that something went wrong. Did he fall? Did he begin the dismount and then fall? He didn’t fall, per say but did he do a dismount? A score of 13.466 flashed up for the Japanese gymnast. The competition was over. Great Britain began celebrating their silver medal whilst the Ukraine cheered and were thrilled with their bronze medal whilst China continued to smile and Chen Yibings eyes teared up with joy as a result of retaining their Olympic Team title.
It was then announced that Japan had submitted an inquiry into Uchimura’s score. The judges conferred for 10 minutes. Whilst the crowd got louder, “booing” in disbelief. The verdict was in, those of us at home watching on television received the news before those inside the arena. The inquiry had been accepted and after a lengthy deliberation between judges, Uchimura had been awarded .700 onto his D score. An air of disbelief was almost tangible from the arena through my television screen at home. The addition of .700 awarded to Uchimura elevated Japan into silver position and knocked Great Britain to bronze, with Ukraine believing they were Olympic Team bronze medalists for 15 minutes. A shame.
Journalist Nick Zaccardi revealed the media communication that was presented to those in the Press Tribunes:
As Justin commented on the Full Twist Facebook page:
As outstanding of a gymnast Uchimura is, this just isn’t right. That was not a medal-clinching worthy performance. Silver medal was robbed from Great Britain.
I agree, Uchimura was not flawless in this performance. If this had been Louis Smith’s Pommel Routine then I could understand but with this routine, no. Uchimura himself showed signs of utter disappointment upon landing knowing that the medal had slipped through his hands due to this performance.
This is a shame for the sport, for GB and does not reflect so well on Japan. Alas, as per yesterdays controversy of Jordyn Wieber who was unable to qualify for the All Around final due to the two per country rule, there are rules in this sport, rules which gymnasts, coaches and judges must abide by. One of those rules is that a score can be questioned but you cannot question another gymnasts score, only your own. So to answer those who have asked – no, Great Britain could not have queried why Uchimura was awarded the .700.
I cannot wait to see a video of this when it appears online and I hope that a MAG judge could possibly break the routine down and show exactly where the marks were taken. It would enlighten many a gymnastics fan.
What is your take on this? I am disappointed that it left many leaving the Men’s Team Final with a bad taste in their mouth. At the end of the day, Great Britain still made the podium and achieved an astonishing result. This team has come a long way in the last few years. The importance of a medal to the sport of gymnastics in Britain, regardless of colour, cannot be overstated. No GB Men’s team has previously come close to a result of this magnitude in the modern days of gymnastics. Yes, Great Britain had the silver taken from them by Japan but let us not forget about the Ukraine, who were Olympic bronze team medalists for a mere 10 minutes on Monday July 30th 2012.
Image via Ghetty Images.