By John Winn
Sometimes, no matter how fast we run, how hard we push, or how graceful we dismount, the best isn’t good enough for some people. You could put your entire life on hold, sacrificing birthdays, Christmases, proms just to work towards a single dream–only for it to evaporate in a London minute. But you don’t have to be an Olympic gymnast to know how it feels.
Yes, Jordyn Wieber was done wrong, and even a clumsy, non-athletic aspiring writer could tell that the point system in gymnastics is messed up beyond all recognition, but what makes Weiber’s cut Sunday from the all-around competition semi-final so moving wasn’t how dramatic or unexpected it was–but it’s banality.
Wieber was (and is) the Hillary Clinton of the U.S. Gymnastic team in 2012–the front-runner, the odds on favorite, the girl who would be queen. This is a girl who consistently posted stats in the 59.5-60.0 range, who has won multiple gold medals in international competition, and is pretty much the reigning female world champion in her sport. So when she failed to advance, it was an upset, to say the least.
Wieber’s loss resonates beyond the world of sports. How many girls her age have applied to Harvard, Yale, Carolina or a bunch of other schools only to get turned down? How many women have struggled to advance in their careers, only to see less competent men become CEOs, CFOs, and managers? You could be the top of your class, have excellent employment histories, and still not Make It.
There are a lot of factors that led to Wieber’s loss. Deductions, judging, the usual behind-the-scenes politics–take your pick. But that doesn’t take away the pain. Wieber just got a knife in her heart, and believe me, those memories are going to stay. It’s like Neil Armstrong being told he won’t be allowed to walk on the moon–you think you’d forget that sort of thing?
I agree with Bela–I think the rules system in Olympic gymnastics stinks, and is probably the biggest sham this side of The City. But I am not an athlete. But pain and disappointment are universal regardless of what you play or what your nationality is. Put me on Team Wieber.
[UPDATE: Looks like Wieber made good on her plan to net a gold for the Fab Five. You can read the details here.]
Social Media Coordinator (and managing editor) John Winn is Hennen’s Twitterer in Chief. In addition to writing for Hennen’s, His work has been featured in A Twist of Noir, Lightning Flash, Racket Magazine, and plenty of other online magazines. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.