Sports The Gymnasts You May Not Leer At… Wait, Nastia’s 18 Now?
posted by June 23 at 13:14 PMon
OK, I’ll use
Dan’s Dominic’s beefcake as my feeble excuse—yeah, I was a gymnast for nine years—to blab about last night’s Olympic trials. First, I’d like to say, what the hell, NBC? Bela Karolyi deserves to be locked in a dark, airtight box for twenty-five years, not given a mic and a camera and allowed to cackle maniacally on network TV without providing even a scrap of analysis of anyone’s performance.
I would also appreciate not being told that Kerri Strug’s vault on a dislocated ankle (which turned out not to be necessary to the U.S. victory) in 1996 was an act of patriotic heroism every other commercial break. Strug only did it because she was more afraid of disappointing that sadist Bela Karolyi than causing serious and possibly permanent injury to herself. It’s a sign of coercion when an athlete is reckless with her own safety, not bravery.
But on to the better stuff: Nastia Liukin is awesome. At 18 years old and 5’3”, she’s almost too old and definitely too leggy to have an easy time of it on every event. (If gymnastics can ever said to be easy, it’s a pretty simple equation for Shawn Johnson, who’s hitting the Olympics sweet spot at 16 years old, a 4’9” package of pure muscle.) But Liukin uses her legginess and flexibility to gorgeous artistic effect. You have to watch women’s gymnastics this year. With gymnastics’ emphasis on ever-escalating difficulty, it’s not going to be this pretty again for a long while. Here she is at the 2008 Visa Championships. She wasn’t quite so perfect yesterday, but she came close enough.