I brand these articles as “a week” but between the NCAA updates, the COVID-19 updates, and the recent political stuff, the news has been moving pretty fast these days, so I’m publishing this early.
News of the Week
Eythora Thorsdottir experiences coaching instability
As a result of #GymnastAlliance, the Dutch program has been in turmoil in recent months as it has been working to overhaul its coaching structure as it attempts to create a safer training environment for its athletes. Eythora Thorsdottir has been one of the Dutch gymnasts more significantly affected by this. She is required to appear at the national training center, while her coach is specifically barred from attendance. This has led to an open rift between Eythora Thorsdottir and her national federation.
It is not ideal for Eythora to have such coaching instability occurring just six months before the Olympics. On that issue, fans will sympathize with Eythora. But others may interpret her continued support for her coach as insensitive to #GymnastAlliance. For those who speak Dutch or use auto-translate, first article can be found here, second article can be found here.
UC Davis made the following statement:
In alignment with current Yolo County health orders, UC Davis gymnastics will not compete during the 2021 season
Meanwhile Oklahoma head coach K.J. Kindler has announced Olivia Trautman will miss the “first half” of the 2021 season due to injury (heel fracture). Washington is conducting a virtual meet and greet for fans. Registration closes January 13th. Spencer over at BBS created a nice mini-schedule for the opening weekend of NCAA gymnastics.
Japan and COVID-19
After Tokyo recorded another daily record of COVID-19 cases, they postponed a postponement of a key pre-Olympic tradition, the tour of the Torches. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo. Adding further complexity to the situation, Japan is unlikely to receive the Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine until May. The Japanese government did a brilliant job in securing doses. The problem is a regulatory bottleneck where the country has been unable to fast-track vaccine approval by health officials.
Meanwhile the IOC is promoting a stance of vaccinating athletes ahead of the Olympic Games, carefully wording their statements to state that they are not looking to jump the line, although it sounds an awfully lot like they are asking to jump the line. The IOC also comes off as delusional for suggesting this won’t be controversial. Major sports leagues such as the NCAA, NFL, and European soccer saw this as too politically untenable to seriously pursue. But given how high a priority of successfully staging an Olympic Games is for senior politicians in Japan, the IOC may very well be able to pull it off.
Larisa Iordache and Sunisa Lee highlights
MyKayla Skinner Update
From the moment it was announced MyKayla had COVID-19, the Gymternet immediately reacted with a wave of online commentary. MyKayla provided an update to tell fans that she was at home recovering. She did it while quoting a Twitter account, a Twitter account all of you will recognize.
Aly Raisman shoutout on Jeopardy!
On January 7th the second to last episode of Alex Trebek’s career was aired, and one of the questions was gymnastics related.
Not too long ago Jeopardy had another gymnastics themed question. I had it saved in my media files figuring one day it might come in handy for an article. I guess now is as appropriate as ever to publish it.
Simone Biles shoutout on MSNBC
During the double-Senate run-off elections, as part of its coverage MSNBC commentator Joy Reid compared two politicians by invoking a Simone Biles analogy:
It’s like the US women’s gymnastics team. If Warnock is Simone Biles, Ossof is… one of the other young ladies on the team.
The actual video can be found on @PoorLawyer’s Twitter account. But the account is locked making it inaccessible to most TMC readers. This was the big political-gymnastics news for about 12 hours until…
Reactions to Storming of U.S. Capitol
How does the gymnastics community react to America witnessing one of the most significant days in national history, and an incident that will be included in every high school history textbook for the next century? Simone Biles proved that she is a leader in the sport both inside and outside the gym. Simone not only used her voice, but her reaction was articulate and thought provoking. It was enough for People.com to cover Simone’s Tweet and used her as an example of a leading athlete taking on a political role.
This is who Simone Biles is. She isn’t just someone who is gifted physically, but someone who has a gifted mind as well. Few athletes have talent comparable to Simone Biles. Even fewer have the mental attributes and leadership qualities to excel in such a role as Simone has done throughout her career. Meanwhile Morgan Hurd took a stab at high-profile Republican pundit Tomi Lahren.
I did a small write-up on Reunion Island. This small island off the coast of Madagascar in Africa has produced seven Olympic gymnasts since 1992. Among them, Elvire Teza and Marine Boyer. I also try to dispel a misconception regarding French figure skater figure skater Surya Bonaly.
I’ve also been working towards completing the last profiles on my biographies page. Out of 356 profiles, about 95% of them have since been completed. The most recently finished ones were Giulia Steingruber, Ariella Kaslin, Georgia-Mae Fenton, Li Ya, and Jennifer Pinches.
What other People Wrote
Luba over at Gymnovosti posted to her Twitter account that Nikita Nagornyy has COVID-19 antibodies. This implies he contracted COVID-19 at some point in 2020, which hadn’t been public knowledge until now. More NCAA coverage from BBS, Spencer has a Week #1 preview.
What I’m Reading This Week
Reuters did a photo essay of young gymnasts at a predominately black gymnastics club. And not just any club, but the one run by Wendy Hilliard. For those who don’t know, Wendy was an iconic black rhythmic gymnast from the 1980s. She was infamously left off the 1983 World Championships team with a coach purportedly saying it was because Hilliard “stood out too much.”
The program Wendy Hilliard runs isn’t branded as a “club” but rather a “foundation.” It provides free and low cost gymnastics services to underserved communities. The foundation also spends a significant amount of time documenting the legacies of prominent black gymnasts from the 1970s-present. I’d go as far as to say they are the leading voice when it comes to promoting the rich history of black gymnasts such as Luci Collins and Dianne Durham.
As for Wendy, she was the first black woman to represent the United States in rhythmic gymnastics in major international competition, the first black President of the Women’s Sports Foundation, and this photo essay gives an insight of her working with young girls. The photo essay also gives insights as to how Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles serve as role models for her students.
While browsing Facebook, I saw Dominique Dawes promoting this 23-minute YouTube video that was published in December. It was a feature called “My Life 365” covering Dominique over the years, but the highlight was an appearance by Michelle Obama. The two joined forces to promote fitness/healthy lifestyle and footage from that exercise session on the White House lawn was included in the documentary.
Throwback Article of the Week
Once upon a time not long ago (although it feels like a long time ago), I was crazy enough to calculate the largest and smallest margins of victory in every gymnastics competition since 1950.