The News: January 1st, 2021

For recent editions of The News click here. For a master list of all editions, click here.

With another year in the books, the natural evolution of this blog is to start spending more time focusing on the day-to-day aspects of the sport. The debut of The News is my attempt at precisely that. The News will follow the lead that other gymnastics blogs have already set out, while still maintaining my a unique TMC spin. And no, this is merely the introduction of a new series rather than a radical overhaul of the site.

The News

Japan and COVID-19
Like so many countries, Japan is dealing with another brutal wave of COVID-19. Unlike every other country, they are set to host the Olympics in 200 days. The most recent update on the virus numbers is not good and at this point gymnastics fans have to start preparing for another round of “will they or won’t they host the Olympics.” I’d say the Olympics are almost certainly likely to be held, but will the Olympics still feel like the Olympics?

We we still get a first-rate gymnastics competition, but the athletes are likely to miss out on virtually every other Olympic experience. The opening and closing ceremonies will likely experience significant alterations, if they are not demoted to a virtual ceremony entirely. The Olympic Village experience where athletes from every sport and every country get to be a community for two weeks likely won’t happen. Any “Olympic Village” will surely lack community spaces for the athletes to interact, defeating the purpose entirely. Even if your favorite gymnast makes it to the Olympics, they probably won’t get the full Olympic experience.

Oleg’s Suspension
The Gymternet has discovered Oleg Verniaiev has mysteriously been added to FIG’s suspended list. It adds to the mystery of his absence from the 2020 European Championships. I’ve often said the real information can be found in what people don’t say rather than what they do say. Between FIG, Ukraine, and Oleg’s camp, they have probably been getting bombarded for days with questions about it. Yet no one has said anything. No statement of it being a misunderstanding, something minor that will be resolved soon, or further clarification.

Which leads me to believe that the problem is either really significant, or something scandalous occurred. These situations usually go one of two ways. It is either going to sideline Oleg for a significant amount of time. Or the powers that be will bury the story with Oleg getting his status restored with no explanation as to why he was ever suspended in the first place. Neither scenario would surprise me.

Soldatova Concludes a Wonderful Career
Alexandra Soldatova announced her retirement towards the end of 2020. She was a fan favorite and the Russian alternate at the 2016 Olympics. But she struggled with the hardship of being in the highly competitive Russian rhythmic gymnastics program where gymnasts are routinely left off the Olympics/World Championships teams despite being among the very best in the world.

Juniors Cross the Line.
The Gymternet is celebrating the 2005-born gymnasts now being senior eligible. You can now say Viktoria Listunova is a senior with no asterisk attached. Konnor McClain also says hello. The Gymternet has the full list of gymnasts who are turning senior in 2021.

Blog Update

In the last week I’ve been on a blitz of Switzerland content. I wrote one article on the early history of Swiss gymnastics. The country suffered back-to-back boycotts in 1976 and 1980. The country was also extremely slow to develop a viable WAG program due to sexism. The second Swiss article is on something that I call The Swiss Paradox which discusses how the qualification system is really unfair to your average Swiss gymnast.

I also wrote a hilarious article on the infamous 1976 Olympic qualification process which featured a glaring flaw that allowed teams to cheat their way to the Olympics. This model was so bad FIG had to scrap it just months before the Olympics.

My next major article is going to be a profile on Denisa Golgota.

What I’m Reading This Week

There is not a whole lot to talk about given the it is the holiday season and many of the content producers are taking a break. But the Olympic Channel came out with this great article on Ellie Black. Also, remember how Nastia Liukin made an appearance on American Ninja Warrior a little while back? Well He Kexin has joined in on the fun with an appearance on Chinese Ninja Warrior. The He Kexin footage has recently surfaced on the Gymternet and the link can be found here on Twitter.

Picture of the Week

Oksana Omelianchik

Every edition of The News is going to feature a “picture of the week.” I’ll try to find something fun, unique, or original every week as a treat for the readers.

Throwback Article of the Week

Shortly After Her Paralysis Elena Mukhina Wrote a Letter

Back in October of 2019 when this blog was barely 2 months old, I published an experimental article. It was meant as an article for myself, was a topic I really wanted to write about, and I didn’t care how successful it would become. At the time I had no Facebook presence, a Twitter account with 50 or so followers, and no Email subscribers. I was expecting this article to get no more than 100 clicks. I thought it was too strange of a concept to generate clicks.

It ended up being one of the most popular articles I have ever written. As this blog has grown, articles from 2020 tend to dominate the hit count. The Mukhina-Letter article is unique in that it is the only article from 2019 in my top-20 most popular articles, and it currently sits at #5.

For recent editions of The News click here. For a master list of all editions, click here.


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