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A Little Known Rule Costs U.S Team Their First Medal At A Non Boycott Olympics In 40 Years

Image by USA gym A fall, low difficulty, form issues, step out of bounds have been costing gymnasts and teams the podium through all ...

Image by USA gym
A fall, low difficulty, form issues, step out of bounds have been costing gymnasts and teams the podium through all time, but what costed the U.S team the bronze medal at Seoul Olympics in 1988 was entirely different.

Like most gymnasts, U.S team member Kelly Garrison used a springboard to mount the uneven bars, Rhonda Faehn ‘the team’s alternate’ pulled the spring board out of the way immediately after Kelly mounted but instead of leaving the podium where the bars stand, she remained there to watch her teammate. According to the rules, gymnasts are forbidden from being on the competition podium while another one is performing.

One of the officials called attention to it and after a long discussion ensued near the bar which held up the continuation of the round, the American team received 0.5 deduction which dropped them from third to fourth place.

American officials appealed the penalty as a little-known rule that did not affect the competition outcome, and argued that a warning would have been more fair. 

”That’s dirty,” Karolyi (one of the American coaches at that time) said when he learned of the deduction. ”That’s dirty, and that’s sick. What does it matter, even if the kid is on the podium? What change is there in the routine? It doesn’t disturb anything. I’ve never seen that before.”

Karolyi also told reporters that the decision of upholding the little known rule was politically motivated “It’s obvious the East German judge wanted to keep the scores down. They’re fighting desperately to keep their place.”

The U.S team lost to East Germany by only 0.3 point range difference. Had their appeal been accepted, they would have won their first medal at a non boycott Olympics in 40 years.

After the competition, and getting fourth place because of the judging and board removal controversy.” Kelly Garrison told US gymnastics after 20 years of the Olympics “I was crying in the arena knowing that it would be my last Olympics and I saw my parents peering over the railing and my only thought was that Mom was right after all; she used to always tell me “trying your best is all that mattered” and I used to say “No, winning is what matters to me, Mom. I learned real quick that life isn’t always fair.”



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