Wednesday, May 28, 2008

USA Male Gymnasts Work It

In the movie Lust In The Dust, Divine's character said "It's always the little one got something to prove." In the men's artistic gymnastics competition at the 2008 U.S. Visa Championships in Houston, a lot of little ones had something to prove in trying to position themselves for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. The six individual events had six different winners, but the coveted all-around title went to David Sender (at right). Paul Hamm, the gold medalist from the 2004 Olympics, had been leading after the first day of competition but he was forced to withdraw because of a hand injury.

David Sender has always reminded me of Jason Biggs in American Pie. I expect to see him signal that he is ready to start a routine by holding one hand in the air and using the other hand to hold a pie plate in front of his personal John Thomas flair. He's a serious competitor though to be a top gymnast and should be on our team. He said “I was thrilled to win the all-around, but more importantly I proved to the selection committee that I can do two nights of steady gymnastics." Two steady nights of swinging your legs over your head and stretching your perineal muscles? I say, you're selected.

After Sender, the order of the next six gymnasts for the all-around (but not necessarily in the order of wanting to see them shirtless) was Jonathan Horton, Joe Hagerty, David Durante, Raj Bhavsar, Alexander Artemev, and Guillermo Alvarez.

Raj BhavsarI'm glad to see that Raj Bhavsar is still hanging in there (no pun intended). He was totally screwed when he was given only an alternate position on the 2004 Olympic team so that undeserving Blaine Wilson could be put on the team to get one more chance at winning a medal. The U.S. team got a silver medal that year, but the one put around Wilson's neck rightfully should have been Bhavsar's. I really hope the wrong that was done to Raj will be rectified this year and that he will be representing our country in Beijing.

Speaking of how the judges favor some gymnasts no matter how they perform, there is an interesting article on the International Gymnast website (link) that discusses how the U.S. judges overscore their favorites. It's this kind of thing that allowed Blaine Wilson to win so many U.S. championships when he really wasn't very good. The international judges weren't so lenient and that's why he didn't do as well outside this country. Thank goodness this year he has finally retired. Our American judges would have kept giving him a good score even if he had to use a walker to do the floor exercise.

Here are the top finishers in the individual events:

  • Vault: David Sender
  • Floor exercise: Morgan Hamm
  • Pommel horse: Yewki Tomita
  • Still rings: Kevin Tan
  • Parallel bars: Justin Spring
  • Horizontal bar: Joseph Hagerty
It has occurred to me that being able to do some of these events could have practical, real-world benefits. A pommel horse routine could be a highly effective, albeit unorthodox method of giving someone a deep-tissue massage. A vault would be handy for getting over the beverage cart in the aisle of an airplane. The floor exercise is exercise, which is always good, and putting one foot on the floor while extending the other heavenward is the same position as in the internationally recognized signal of "I'll be ready for my money shot in five minutes."

On the other hand, the parallel bars are only useful in allowing Native-type people to carry you to their sacrifice without them having to bind you to the poles. And the still rings is something that is probably already banned under one of the Geneva Conventions concerning torture.

Guillermo AlvarezI have to mention that Guillermo Alvarez (at right) is still one of my favorites. He's good-looking, mild-mannered and intellectual. Plus he has the strength to balance me in any position. Perfect.

Gay men take note: the Mens final of the Visa Championships will be shown on NBC on June 8th. The U.S. Olympic gymnastic team trials will be held in Philadelphia later in June.

Pervious comments on gymnastics and television coverage of the gymnastics finals.