Olympic Difficulty Part 2: Uneven Bars


Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson continues her “Olympic Difficulty” series, comparing gold-medal winning routines of the past to those from more recent years. Read Part one here.

Olympic routines on uneven bars haven’t changed a lot over the years. Every single one in the past 20 years have been jam-packed and breathtaking.

There was quite a bit of dispute over He Kexin’s gold medal at the 2008 Olympics; some felt that Nastia Liukin should have won. Nastia and He tied in the final, but the tiebreaking procedure gave He the edge. (As you may recall, He’s age was also a factor in the Beijing issues, as a registration list named her birthdate as January 1st, 1994, which would have made her fourteen years old at the time of the Games and too young to compete.)

However, I’m sure those same gymnastics fans who were unhappy with that event final were pleased at the results of London 2012, when each slot was clear-cut. While I was personally hoping Beth Tweddle would win at her home games, there was no way I could have said that Aliya Mustafina didn’t deserve gold. Her routine was flowing, effortless, and perfectly stuck.

Emilie Le Pennec in 2004 might have been a little unexpected. She had high flying skills (see the chart below) and an amazing way of determinedly attacking the uneven bars. But I think that going into the competition, Svetlana Khorkina (who fell in the final) had to have been the favorite, considering she was the reigning two-time Olympic bars champion. Over the years, Svetlana showed incredible moves in her bar routines, some of course which were named after her. Ironically, it was her own eponymous release that cost her an all-around medal in 1996 when she fell off the apparatus. It is also important to note that Svetlana’s uneven bar score from the 2004 Olympic all-around final would have been enough for the apparatus gold in Athens.

Lu Li scored a perfect 10 to clinch her uneven bars victory in 1992. She linked very pretty elements, one after another, and closed with a stuck dismount, something that was included in the victories of Svetlana and Aliya but was absent from both Emilie’s and He’s.

I find it fascinating that the winners over the past 20 years have all had routines that were beautifully connected and thoroughly intricate.


2012: Aliya Mustafina (RUS): piked jaeger, Pak salto immediate Stalder-Shaposhnikova-half, 1 1/2 twisting double dismount

2008: He Kexin (CHN): Li Ya [Jaegar in mixed grip directly into another Jaegar], layout Jaegar, Tkatchev, Pak salto, full-twisting double dismount

2004: Emilie Le Pennec (FRA): hop-full pirouette, Def [full-twisting Gienger], giant-full pirouette, double-twisting double tuck dismount

2000: Svetlana Khorkina (RUS): Stalder-Tkatchev, Pak salto-Stalder, Front giant to hop release to regrasp the bars in hecht position [Khorkina], full-twisting double tuck dismount

1996: Svetlana Khorkina (RUS): Stalder to 1 1/2 pirouette, Khorkina, 1 1/2 pirouette, Pak salto, Stalder, Shaposhnikova-half, full-twisting double tuck dismount

1992: Lu Li (CHN): Jaegar, overshoot-1/2 to Stalder on low, straddled underswing release to high, Tkatchev, double layout dismount

Image via Tom Jenkins



  1. Lola says:

    Yang Yilin was robeed in 08. Nastia didn’t deserve a medal at all.

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