Monday, 30 July 2012

#Olympics: rules are rules

Yes, like them or not, rules are rules.  The big news overshadowing the fact that Team GB won a Bronze medal in the Men's Gymnastics Final is the fact that we were on course to win Silver, following a mistake by Japan's Kōhei Uchimura, until an appeal by the Japanese team caused them to be promoted back into second place, having slipped down to fourth.

There followed, predictably, a considerable amount of disappointment, as well as anger directed at the Japanese Gymnasts.  Disappointment I can understand - anyone would be disappointed with the Bronze medal after having had a taste of the Silver - but anger I cannot.

Not only does this miss the point that Bronze is still a fantastic result for Great Britain, who haven't even qualified for the Final in this event since 1924, let alone won a medal, but it also completely ignores the fact that Japan were correct to appeal, and deserved the Silver medal.

Uchimura slipped as he went to dismount from the Pommel Horse apparatus, and it was this mistake which caused him to lose points, thereby meaning Japan slipped from second to four place on the leader board.  But the rules state that he did complete a dismount, because he landed on his feat - it was a poor and a messy dismount, and he had clearly made a mistake, but it was a dismount nonetheless.  He deserved to lose points for the sloppiness, but he didn't deserve to be denied the dismount points altogether.

It was a mistake by the Judges in not awarding Uchimura the dismount points (albeit minimal dismount points, for the shoddy quality of his dismount) which caused the upset, and Japan were right to appeal against this.  We (in Britain) may not agree with the rules which allow them to do this - but rules are rules, and must be adhered to, whether they help us or hinder us.

If this had happened to a British Gymnast, fighting for a medal position, rather than a Japanese one, there would've been an uproar had we not appealed, and been awarded the points which were due to us all along.

It's natural to be disappointed not to achieve the Silver medal, but we can still be proud of Bronze - and we've no right to be cross with the Japanese for fighting every inch of the way to make sure they get the points owed them, in one of the biggest Gymnastics competitions in the world; isn't that what any team would do?  It's what any team's fans would expect them to do.

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