Blog 12: Reflections on Monday, and look to the LAST day of Artistic!

Posted 8/16/2016 in Olympics | 34075 view(s) | 0 comment(s)

Blog 12… One more Day of Artistic Gymnastics- WOW!

Today is Monday. A bittersweet day, for sure.

Why? Because at the end of this week, I will head home. It has been almost 20 years in the making that I wanted to come to the Olympics with a grand purpose… since PT school, graduation and knowing that my hands can do some good! Almost 34 years since I started gymnastics, and wanted to be here on the podium.  Then, I got into writing as well, and fell as much in love with the art of telling the story as I did treating. And now, in 5 days, my experience will be complete… that, my friends, is crazy.  I miss my family like crazy. I really do miss my patients and my staff, as they are my extended family as well. Most of all, I miss real food, safety, and warm running water!



*Here is the SUMMARY (CLICK HERE) of Day 2- Event Finals Competition 

*Here is a great quick hit of quotes from KOCIAN AND NADDOUR (CLICK HERE!) 

*And, a fantastic description of the differences and similarities between men’s and women’s gymnastics- CLICK HERE for a great read!

* A preview for tonight, day 3 of Event Finals- Women’s Floor, Men’s Pbars and High Bar- CLICK HERE! 


1. Biles

Tonight proved a wonderful thing. You think I am going to say that Biles is not a superhuman, but no. You think I am going to say that everyone makes mistakes, but absolutely not. It proved that above all else, in addition to being a champion, Aimee Boorman, her Mom Nellie and her Dad have raised Simone to be a kind, humble, and driven person who wants the best for herself She came off of a less than perfect beam routine and was disappointed. NOT that she did not win the gold (she did not even think that she would podium), but that she did not perform at her best potential. That is to be commended more than anything. She was happy for teammate Laurie, and reflective of her performance. After all, in the sport of gymnastics (for us control freaks!), you control you. Not anyone else. If you win because of someone else’s mistake, it is still not you controlling others, just your own score. A 15.1 could get 15th one year and 1st another, depending on others (who also control themselves).  She just wants to be the best “Simone” that can be. Some may say that even on her worst day, she is still better than so many and should be happy. Maybe.. but not for her. She pushes herself. She is a part of a program that instills in you (through  Martha, leadership, and coaches) that beating people is not the answer, but being your best, every day, with every move, is the goal. That is what makes the US Women’s team so special. And, I love it.


It was Fathers Day here yesterday in Brazil, and I was really thinking of Dad more than ever. I have 8-10 voicemails saved on my phone from him. One or two are indiscreet as to what day or time it is, with no real purpose for the call, but just to see how I was, and how my day went. And.. if I had heard about Rio yet. I listened to them yesterday and today, probably a hundred times. Why? Because his voice is the voice I heard my whole life, and it made me who I am today. Stubborn? Yes. Driven? Uh-huh. Demanding? Yep. Mediocre? Absolutely not. Satisfied? Only when I have done the best for myself, no matter what the others have done. He stood for being moral and ethical. For never gluing something when you should nail. For painting behind the cabinet, even if you would never see the wall. For doing all of your push ups, even if the coaches were not looking. That….is heart.





2. Sanne!

Tonight was a great Balance Beam final. The debate, of course, is about whether Sanne Wever (from the Netherlands) was deserving of the gold, as opposed to those who performed visibly more “difficult” acrobatics, such as Hernandez. I, for one, am thrilled with the outcome. I love Laurie and Simone, and for Simone to still get third with, essentially, a fall, is amazing. Laurie brought her best tonight, but even through a petition to raise her D score (it was a tenth off, said her coach Maggie), Wever was on top. The Code is the Code. Certain skills, whether acro or dance, are valued in certain ways. Like a ’96 Olympian and I were chatting about today, the difference, we think, is that we could “try” a triple turn, and probably not die. We both know that trying a standing full on beam today would lead to broken bones, pain, and most likely tears. Or, peeing my pants just standing there thinking about it. The skills may be equally as difficult to master (repetitions, drills, balance, coordination), but because the “fear” factor is less for dance, it is not as often respected.  She earned her medal today, impressing us with her full twisting back handspring, and maybe allowing us to sigh at her oft NCAA-performed gainer full dismount. But, none the less, the numbers added up.


3. Gabby the Great

I have known Gabby Douglas for over 8 years. I remember her when she was a spunky up-and-coming kid. I remember her when she was the underdog, yet had potential, to win in London. I remember her after she won, and how proud she was. I remember her time off, and the crap that the World gave her doubting her comeback. I knew her during her injuries, coaching changes, and other struggles. And her comeback. And then, now. I will say one thing- quoted from something that has been circulating on Facebook. You never know, no matter how someone looks on the outside, what they are going through on the inside. Never.  I know which side I am on, and I am proud to be there, and have told her that personally.


I will do a Devil’s advocate for you, to give you both sides of the story, and then you can choose for yourself. I know her and cannot imagine what she is going through right now, or even months ago. And, neither can you.


Side 1: The Naysayer

The anthem hand-over-heart issue. The lack of teammate support. The lack of smilng unless it is a press conference. The TV show. The fame and money (yep). The attitude. OK, let’s delve in to all of these.


Side 2: The Supporter

The stress it is to be a star. The weight of the world as an incumbent. The inability to do anything except follow the rules of the IOC regarding the TPC rule. Maturity. Life. Injury, and comeback. Focus.


Ok, now that I have laid it all out, we can talk more about each side.


Side 1- Social media is on the attack with Douglas about the Anthem issue. Even noticeable at Nationals and Trials this year was Gabby with her hands by her side, while the rest of her team had their hand over their heart. In St. Louis and San Jose, it was before the meet during the Anthem. In Rio, it was when the team won gold. Is it disrespect Well, she is not a lemming and did not follow suit. But, these days, some kids never hear the anthem unless at a parade or an NFL game because in the classroom, so many things have changed. She claims it was that she stands at attention out of respect for the military, so are you saying that the rest of the girls are not respectful with their hand over their hearts? On the floor, she is often seen by herself, watching, focusing, but not cheering. At this point in time in her career, after thousands of routines, would ten seconds of smiling, sheering, and clapping really break your focus? With as much as Team USA has been about “team” both on the men’s and women’s side this year, maybe the answer is yes. It may not be what is intended, but it is what is perceived. The Gabby on the floor looks almost mean, focused, and determined. Beam is attacked. Floor looks competed and not performed. Is it bad, or just different? Does she even like being here anymore, or does she just not know what to do with her life if she left gymnastics (no college, no degree?) Then, there is the TV show, her family, and the fame. Did it get to her head? It is a niche’ world, gymnastics is. But, being a minority in race and a female in sport, she had a bunch of opportunities come her way, and she took them. All.


Side 2- Have you ever heard the story of Michael Jackson? I know, Gabby is not Michael. But, still. Fame is great, when you are on the rise. Everyone thinks that they want to be “famous,” the people, the pictures, the parties, the attention. Then, you get there, and it is lonely at the top. Not many cared what Gabby did on her off-days in 2011. But in 2014, mid Olympic-cycle, people would see her out and about and wonder (because she was not fit yet) why she was not training. Well, are you her coach? Did you make her plan? Nope. But yet, you still judge.  Being the reigning all around champion from London in 2012 is stressful only if you are coming back. If you are not, it is just pure bliss, until (like Miss America each year), four years later you pass along your crown to the next female superstar.  The thought of that is tough, stressful, and full of pressure. The stories were not about how good Gabby still is, but of how good she was and if she was going to be good again. Why not just be happy with how Gabby is now? She was an absolute contributor to this team. She earned her spot through statistics and performance- in competition and in practice. She worked her butt off through a nasty knee issue, and never said a peep about it. Why? Because she did not want attention, she just wanted to see where her gymnastics took her. Gabby qualified (actually qualified) in what is one of the deepest fields in Women’s Olympic Gymnastics, to the all-around and beam (as well as bars, which she competed). But because of the two-per-country rule, a lesser qualified gymnast got to vie for the medals instead of her. To come to the Olympics and make AA finals and two event finals (made bars, tie 7th on Beam with Aly, both skipped, and was 3rd in ranking in the AA) is AMAZING! HEY- IT IS ONE LESS THAN WHAT SIMONE DID and no one is saying that she failed, right? Did you see that, THIRD in the AA! COME ON!


You decide for yourself, there are both sides. No matter which side you are on, you can’t tell me that you don’t appreciate the opposite, even a bit. This is not being democratic vs republican, or pro-life or pro-choice. This is a human being, with heart and feelings, and a coaching staff, a team, and country that is effected, too.  Her reputation as an Olympic and Team Gold Medalist will live forever in the books, no matter what the 2016 finishers come out to be.



4. Volunteerism

It is amazing that the going story here in Brazil is that volunteerism is just not in their culture. They are a kind and hard working people, that also know where to draw the line between work and family and, well, life!  So, when the Olympics were granted to Rio eight years ago (yep, and they still were not ready…), it was an issue not only of infrastructure, leadership, social violence and unrest, funding, but also of staffing! There are so very many people here from outside of Brazil volunteering this year. To get the country to realize that every minute that they helped brought something to the Brazilians as a whole is hard to believe. The better the country looks, the more travel. The more travel, the more tourism income. The more income for the country, the more taxes and city rebuilding. The better the city, the more people to live, spend money, work and grow. And on and on.


The Chinese are the epitome of country pride, with the greatest example being Beijing. In the 2008 Olympics, the opening ceremonies involved thousands of people. Hundreds banging those drums, some marching with flags and so many more. People cried at the opportunity, waited in hours and days of lines, to just be able to be a part of “presenting China” to the world. There was even a suicide due to someone not feeling like they were going to get it right, and not wanting to mess up. Wow… all on volunteerism. In the US, every day, every weekend, every corner you turn, there is a sign up for someone to volunteer for a bake sale, cancer fundraiser, school classroom or something else. It is what makes the country run outside of much of school funding. People like doing it, are recognized for it, and through some complain, most get gratification out of it.


Those Brazilians that I have met have been outstanding. It is not because they do not want to give of themselves, but they have never had an opportunity like this that brought positive light to them as a culture. Political unrest, violence, unbelievable amounts of poor areas and groups of people, and more has lead them to not thing, as a country, that they could change this perception. But, alas, they have.


Most people here are angry with the disorganization not because the transportation managers on the bottom are clueless, but because the leadership was never put in place to allow them to succeed. Most are mad at the lack of instruction given to the volunteers in the media center, or athlete village, or even on the streets not because they are not smart people. They are trying their best, but have been handed no leadership or education. They are happy to help, and try, but they just can’t. They are frustrated, too.


It is a country of kindness, hospitality, jovial attitudes, welcoming smiles and hugs, and pride for where they are now compared to where they were 8 years ago (or even 8 months ago!). But, unfortunately, this is not pee wee hockey regionals. This is the Olympics, which maybe the IOC should reconsider third world countries for hosting, or at least, give them structure, guidance, and leadership (just like our sports teams need!)



- Got to grab a great pic with Chris, the wonderful Ricardo Bufolin (photographer from Brazil) and Arthur Nory Mariano from Brazil (who happened to have his floor ex bronze medal in his pocket!)


- A snapshot of pride with the ladies, Aimee and Maggie, the coaches of Simone and Laurie, and great people! Their beam routines are as much about the coaching as the athlete. The planning of the routines, learning of skills, cycling of conditioning, reps, and more. Kudos to you!


- My kids having Jamba Juice… at home! Oh what I would give for fruit washed with filtered water…please!!!!


6. Random facts of the day!

  • Portuguese and Spanish are alike. But they are not interchangeable. We tried, it confuses them most of the time even more!
  • Driving here is literally more of a death with than swimming covered in bait near sharks. Most people take the bus. There are more of them here than there is fresh fruit.
  • They value cooked fat at restaurants. Literally, you can order it. Hmmmm
  • They treat every sporting event like a soccer (Futbol) match, whether appropriate reactions, or not. Period.
  • Most of the natives here are not even scared of Zika, at all. Over 25 people I have asked do not even wear bug spray. Unless they are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, of course.
  • Simone essentially had only part of her foot on the beam. This means her quad was strong enough to, on her heel, land a front tuck, hold it, and try to stand back up again. Wow. That, ladies, is why you condition. Every rep. Every wall squat. Not to make your legs big, but to let you perform if you are less than perfect. Rewind it and watch it again in awe!
  • Saw Hoda Kotb today, she could not have been nicer! She is a HUGE Olympics fan, as well as gymnastics all year round. She has the pleasure of being able to interview some of these ladies here, and follow the action at the arena. Neat!


Let’s have fun tomorrow, the last day!  Maybe redemption for Leyva from his HB fall in team finals. Maybe a medal for Mikulak. Maybe a 1-2 punch for the Americans on Floor. Maybe a men’s pbar medal, too. Let’s turn maybe into done!


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