Monday, July 30, 2012

watch: the changes in women's gymnastics in the olympics since 1980

Watching the Olympics this year literally has me stunned. Even though I was a gymnast for 15 years, it seems like a completely different sport to me. Not only is the entire scoring system totally different [so I can't even pretend like I know what I'm talking about], but the skills are so incredibly advanced that even my former coach is shocked.

I don't think any of us need to see old videos as proof, but I decided to look back at some of the most notable gymnasts in the past 30 years, and show you just how much the sport has changed. I think it's easiest to tell when watching a beam routine, but since that's not normally the favorite event to watch, I have some examples from all of them.

The horse changed in the early 2000s, but I don't think that had a whole lot to do with the skill level increase.

Nadia Comaneci- 1980

Kerri Strug, epic vault of 1996

Jordyn Wieber, 2012 Olympic Trials

The bars used to be a lot closer together, so the types of skills have changed quite a bit... but notice all the release moves and different ways of gripping the bar Gabby does compared to Kim.

Nadia's perfect 10!

Kim Zmeskal- 1992

Gabby Douglas- 2012 [practice]

It used to be simple and dancy, with a couple mandatory skills. Now it's an unbelievable amount of connections/series of skills.

Svetlana Boginskaya- 1988

Shannon Miller- 1996

Carly Patterson- 2004

[CLICK HERE for Aly Raisman's beam routine from qualifications. NBC is selfish and won't let me share.]

You'll notice quite a bit of dancing early on... but now it's nothing but skill after skill [and not as much sticking].

Mary Lou Retton- 1984

Dominique Dawes- 2000 [trials, but she made it!]

Gabby Douglas- 2012 Trials

I'm really upset it's so hard to find good quality videos, but whatever... that's not the point.

It's crazy to watch the routines from the 80s again because I could have easily done any of those routines while I was in my prime. In the 90s, there was no way I'd be doing most of those skills, but I could if I really worked hard. The things they're doing now- oh hell no. They've been brainwashed into not being afraid of ANYTHING.

Kudos, gymnasts of today. You're truly incredible. And to the gymnasts of tomorrow and another decade from now- I'm terrified of and for you. I can't even imagine what they'll be coming up with.


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