A controversial decision to scrap the perfect 10 score still divides people within the sport, International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) President Bruno Grandi has admitted.
Grandi, due to step down from his role as head of the world governing body after two decades in the position later this year, spearheaded the contentious change in the scoring system following controversy at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
American Paul Hamm won the gold medal in the men’s all-around competition but only after South Korean bronze-medalist Yang Tae-young was incorrectly given a start value of 9.9 instead of 10.0 by judges in the parallel bars portion of the all-around event final.
The 0.1-point discrepancy was enough to drop Yang from gold to bronze and three judges were suspended as a result of the error.
The South Korean then unsuccessfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after the original result in the Greek capital was allowed to stand.
The change to the scoring system, introduced in 2006, means it is no longer possible for a gymnast to achieve a perfect 10, a mark that elevated Romanian Nadia Comăneci to legendary status after she managed the feat at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
There are now different top scores, all greater than 10, for the various events, based upon difficulty and artistic merit; there is no consistent perfect score.
The abolition of the perfect 10 score remains a contentious issue within gymnastics and has been the subject of strong opposition from many prominent coaches, athletes and judges.
“Some said that I was crazy – and some are still angry about it,” Grandi told attendees at an AIPS Congress in Dubai.
“But this system of open-ended scoring has been in place at our competitions for 10 years now.
“I could talk for hours about the code of points.
“We had the ‘perfect 10’ in gymnastics, the 10 that made Nadia Comăneci famous 40 years ago.
“Everyone loved the 10 because it was the symbol of perfection.
“But the 10 was in fact restrictive, because it did not permit the judges to separate the difficulty level of exercises and the quality of their execution.
“We saw that the system had reached its limits at the Athens Olympics in 2004.”
Grandi has warned that the FIG will be tough on any judges suspected of malpractice, including at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The sport has also been littered with judging scandals in the past.
In October 2015, seven judges who officiated at the 2014 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Nanning were warned by the FIG, who told them to “pay closer attention” at future events following a number of scoring irregularities.
“The geopolitical battles between East and West, which were also played out in sports arenas, now fortunately belong to the last century,” Grandi admitted.
“But we have taken drastic measures to prevent those little arrangements between friends, as we also did in the past.
“Competence is also built through education.
“We have improved our judges course and brevet system in order to assure that all judges have the level of excellence required for international competitions.
“This is why, dear friends, I, who have consecrated my life to Gymnastics, I am serene.
“This historic sport, which has been part of every Olympic Games since 1896, is thriving.”
- By Liam Morgan
- republished with permission insidethegames.biz