Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thank Heaven, For Little Girls

And the Home Court Advantage:
For the U.S. women's gymnastics team, it came down to a few missteps, and, as is usually the case in a sport of precision and grace, those stumbles made all the difference.

The U.S. lost the gold medal to China 188.9 to 186.525. Simple but glaring mistakes were the Americans' undoing. They may have had prettier routines, but the Chinese were more consistent.

The U.S. had been confident it could take back the gold it last won with the "Magnificent Seven" at the 1996 Olympics. But China proved more hardy in its home gym, as flag-waving spectators cheered "China! China!"

The younger team — some say an illegally young team — proved to have the stronger nerves.
It wasn't close.

....At least two of the Chinese girls did not look anywhere close to being 16 or turning 16 this year, as the rules require. They looked little enough to still believe in Santa Claus. The Americans by contrast, have an 18-year-old and two 20-year-olds on their team. Their experience, however, did not pay off.

In the finals, each of the three routines on each of the four events count. Nothing gets thrown out. There is no room for error. The U.S. made plenty.

[Alicia] Sacramone fell on her mount on the balance beam after a long wait while judges and a floor TV producer spoke and gestured.

The next competitor must receive wait for a red "stop" sign to change to a green "go" sign on the screen before starting a routine. Sacramone had to step back away from her mount twice because it didn't flash go.

"There was no stop sign, just a blank screen," Sacramone said. "I just stood there until my name came up. It seemed like forever. I think that could have contributed to my fall. I was pretty nervous.

"I have to live with my mistakes and just try to put a smile on my face and remember we won a silver medal."

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