Saturday, 6 October 2012

Determining a top 10 list

Just stemming from a post on IG which annoyed me a bit. This idea that you must include certain gymnasts in a top 10 list is bizarre. Caslavska, Latynina, Korbut, Comaneci, Silivas, Boginskaya, Khorkina, Podkopayeva, Miller and Shushunova should be included, apparently. You should only consider those who had a long career and who medalled in AA's. Sorry, no.

By its own criteria, this list is missing Gina Gogean, Lavinia Milosovici and Simona Amanar. Gogean in particular very rarely features in top 10 lists despite having a huge cabinet of medals. Why? Because her gymnastics was boring and safe and does not excite watchers. So why should it be the only ciriteria for someone's personal opinion?

I don't emphasise longevity or medals. To me, an all-time great should be either a true all-arounder who broke the mould, a great innovator or someone who shone brilliantly for a short space of time. Some of the best routines ever have been done by gymnasts dogged by inconsistency. It does not lower the performance for me. Medals are not everything, as the case of Gogean proves. Lilia Podkopayeva shone for only a year, suffering badly with inconsistency before then. Mo Huilan and Viktoria Karpenko had stellar performances on all four apparatus, but could never get it all together when it mattered. Aleftina Priakhina was lost in an insanely deep field, yet was the greatest innovator of all. Nastia Liukin picked up a host of medals in Beijing yet remains one of the weakest AA winners ever, due to her insanely strong apparatus making up for not one but two weak routines compared to the rest of the field.

Here is my top 10 of all time.

1. Tatiana Groshkova
2. Aleftina Priakhina
3. Elena Mukhina
4. Lilia Podkopayeva
5. Mo Huilan
6. Viktoria Karpenko
7. Daniela Silivas
8. Olessia Dudnik
9. Teodora Ungureanu
10. McKayla Maroney

The hardest spot to pick is tenth. I have issues with Maroney as a gymnast but when watching her ready to start a routine I am far more excited than I am for the ones vying for the tenth position. So she wins out...barely. All of these are picked because they are exciting and impressive gymnasts to watch. Elegance, power, innovation, perfection of form and difficulty are all here. With a modest 35 individual World and Olympic medals between them.

Who are YOUR top 10? 


  1. I'm surprised Maroney made #10 for you and not your favorite, Kim Gwang Suk. ;) Also, McKayla isn't a "great all-arounder" or shone for a short period (well, I guess we don't know that but I hope she will stick around for the upcoming quad)? Who were your other #10's?

    1. Yes I suppose McKayla has the edge because she still has some gymnastics left in her..hopefully a world championships or two, I would be very doubtful about Rio itself. McKayla is not a great all-arounder, but she IS incredibly exciting to watch because she brings the amanar and Moreno to (literally) new heights. Something about her gymnastics draws me in. Except bars. Wow they are weird. Still potential in them, but not much at this stage I think. Also, although the rest of the gymnasts on the list were forced to be all-arounders by the nature of the times, a few are only there for their excellence on 2 events, like Priakhina and Groshkova. Ungureanu was not known as a particularly great vaulter either. So it's one of the considerations alright, but not the only one.

      Yes Kim Gwang Suk would be vying for the 10 spot. Hmmm. So would Tatiana Lysenko, Tatiana Gutsu, Natalia Yurchenko, Hollie Vise, Simona Amanar, Cheng Fei, Aurelia Dobre, Ecaterina Szabo, Yelena Produnova, Natalia Illienko, Henrietta Onodi, Mai Murakami and Anna Pavlova.

    2. Mai Murakami!! Makes me so excited for the next quad. Rie and Koko are great, but something about Mai..! Maybe it was her quad spin on beam and her delight afterwards. Love seeing a gymnast's personality shine through. My favorite part about team Japan is how long their WAG members stick around- one of the great things about a dearth of talented gymnasts as bad as that sounds...

    3. Yeah I'm raging they chose their team so damn early, when Mai was recovering from an injury and all over the place. She did manage to kick everyone's ass on floor but fell apart everywhere else. Have you SEEN her triple twisting double layout in training and other such mental moves? Doesn't look like she'll ever make a good bars worker, but she may be able to make up for it elsewhere and still be a strong all-arounder. I am SO EXCITED for the Asian Games, I want to see Mai and a North Korea contingent. I also want to see Natsumi Sasada, she of the full-twisting layout beam mount.

      Yes that's what consoles me over neither of them getting picked, they will probably be around for ages. Rie Tanaka does not look anything near 25 and is in great shape. Asuka Teramoto really impressed me too.

    4. I haven't seen the NHK cup at all! I only found one upload on youtube, and admittedly, I'm one of those people deterred by bad quality videos. But I loved Mai's training videos! Saw them on TCG, didn't think her floor could've gotten any better, saw her quadruple beam spin, thought FOR SURE she was going to make the Olys cut, and then it didn't happen. Very anticlimactic.

      Yes! I'm always stoked for NK. Glad they're back. Please stop getting caught entering underaged gymnasts or stuffing them with banned substances.

      And Asuka- always expect her floor to be super powerful and see her shake the podium because Teramoto reminds me of "terremoto," which means earthquake in Spanish. And then someone tells me she's the smallest Olympian. What.

  2. Gina Gogean is awesome. That is all I have to say.

    1. A great gymnast with a lot of longevity certainly. But she really had such boring safe routines. She did actually throw a counter-kim in Euros 92 which is surprising to say the least.

  3. Well, it depends. My top ten favorite versus those that objectively speaking (or as objective as one can be when determining a top ten for a subjective sport) are the best ever. The website you saw was attempting to be objective by setting flawed but understandable criteria that could simply be measured in numbers. That being said, it would be hard, by sheer weight of their impact and talent, to deny that the gymnasts they mentioned (Caslavska, Comaneci, Latynina) aren't some of the best of the best, in spite of whether or not I am personally drawn to them. In my case, my favorites list includes some gymnasts that would probably vie for a spot on any "official" top ten. For the sake of sanity, I'm trying to keep it strictly to established all arounders.
    My favorite list, in no particular order, would be something like this:

    1. Daniela Silivas
    2.Oksana Omelianchik
    3. Olga Mostepanova
    4. Olga Korbut
    5. Svetlana Boginskaya
    6. Lilia Podkopayeva
    7. Anna Pavlova
    8. Shawn Johnson
    9. Aliya Mustafina
    10. Elena Mukhina

    Obviously, this is not a definitive list. I could just as gladly put Szabo, Dudnik, Khorkina or Mighty Mo if I could cheat and squeeze them in. If you think IGs list is bad then should check out bleacherreports top 25. It's a travesty.