Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Something's Gotta Change..

If you haven't seen this video yet, prepare to wince. This is not a new topic, Yamilet Pena of the Dominican Republic has been frightening everyone for a couple of years now, but Fadwa Mahmoud of Egypt brings it to a new level. After all, both vaults are massively flawed, but Yamilet at least opens up to land, endangering her knees and ankles rather than Fadwa who endangers her spine, head and neck and is lucky nothing has happened to her yet. Are the FIG Women's Technical Committee asleep at the wheel? They lowered the value of this vault by a massive...wait for it...0.1 this year, which of course has done nothing to lower the incentive non-top 4 developing countries have to make a name for their programme.

I'd advocate removing it from the code altogether, just like how the equally dangerous roll-out skills were stamped out, though as we all know they remained in the code for nearly two decades after Elena Mukhina was paralysed while training one, and only removed when a Korean gymnast almost emulated her fate in the 90's. I'm sure there are gymnasts, especially in the US, who could potentially actually land one upright. We don't really know how proficient or otherwise McKayla Maroney is with front handspring vaults but certainly the block she gets off her amanar would be sufficient. It's a big glaring flashing neon sign that nobody IS doing one there, where they have the coaches, gyms, equipment, and technical knowledge neccessary. If you can't get Maroney's amanar block on this vault, it's not going to work. Yamilet has the power, but she flies forward in distance rather than height and therefore can't land it, nor does she rotate fast enough. Yes, yes, she landed one in a really deep squat at Zibo last year. Big deal, she's splatted pretty much all the rest, though the technique has altered just slightly so she can be sure to get her feet under her for a score. Fadwa on the other hand DOES rotate it enough, in fact she overrotates it. The problem is she plops off the horse and has nowhere near enough height to actually land it. You can tell by her run she's not going to be successful. Notice in the replay that there is a Yurchenko safety collar on the mat, which is not used for handspring vaults. Her coaches are really putting her safety first!

I understand that it's not likely to be her decision to continue training this thing, and her coach too would be under pressure. That's why the FIG needs to act. They were quick enough to slam Liu Xuan's one-armed giant and gienger to a C rating, making them redundant in her routine and anybody else's. Those skills were so dangerous, and they couldn't have anyone else attempting them! So why is this the third year we are seeing vaults so chucked a gymnast is lucky to be able to get up afterwards? This isn't a case of a chucked amanar or DTY etc. which as we all know can and do result in injury. But those vaults tend to be upright even when they do cause injury, and a result of a poor coaching decision. These Produnova vaults are far more than that- in this case, they could be much much more serious than taking a gymnast out of competition for a year.

There are more options other than taking it out of the code. If they lowball it like the above mentioned bars skills, say to a 5.0 or something, it would definitely work but it would make a mockery of the code and difficulty ratings. Another option would be up up the fall deduction to 2.0 or greater (bearing in mind this would still be averaged out in a vault final), or one which I saw on tumblr which suggested handing out an automatic zero if your head, neck, upper back or bottom touch the mat. This last one is great but it opens a can of worms for vaults which do land on the feet but bounce back and down. Really though, if it was taken out of the code- who'd miss it? Sure it would be nice if someone could land the thing, but it's just not worth it. I certainly would not miss death defying stunts like the above. How could the FIG possibly defend keeping it as is?

What do you want to see done with this vault? More videos of the vault by 4/5 of those who attempted it after the break.




Receives a zero here, as she does not get her feet under her at all. Interestingly enough, it's not enough for your feet to touch first, they must look capable of supporting you. This is why Hannah Whelan received a zero for her DTY in the London AA as her feet only brushed the mat.
The best one she has done in competition. Clearly far from landing upright, and although it is a big improvement on the one above, she has not managed to better it and has regressed. She IS a great vaulter, she should be doing a Rudi with her DTY and qualifying for finals that way. On a side note, she has great taste in leos and so does Fadwa.
I'm not sure why her surname alternates between Mahmoud and Mohammed. Anyway, here's a training attempt.
Here is the first ever done, by Choe Jong Sil of North Korea in 1980. Interestingly, she looks closer to landing than either of the two others.
And here's the only one to ever be landed properly upright. Notice the height difference between this and all of the others.

13 comments:

  1. It would be a shame to completely remove the vault because as Produnova proves, it can be performed properly and safely. The deductions need to be harsher to discourage gymnasts (and their coaches) from attempting the vault in competition before it's ready. I like the idea of an automatic zero if your bottom brushes the mat, do a forward roll on the landing, etc.

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    1. I think just because one gymnast can perform it like the men do does not make a great case for its continued inclusion, when we have gymnasts looking to snap their spinal cord on it. It is moreso a safety matter. It's been more then a decade and a deep squat is the best result really.

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  2. I honestly think they should have given Liu Xuan's one arm giants a higher rating while she was competing it. It was unfair to her. It's very amazing that Elena Produnova was able to do it on a horse. Imagine how well she could do it on a vaulting table. I think they should allow the vault, but the deduction should be higher like 2.0 for a fall on vault in the event finals. The coaches should stop Fadwa from competing it. It's too scary!

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    1. Absolutely, a C rating was an insult. The other very difficult bars skills all have appropriate ratings. Well even Produnova herself only landed it that way once ever, I just don't see any merit in keeping it. It would be very interesting if gymnasts COULD land it like that more often than not, but all I see is disaster waiting to happen. There is also a Russian gymnast competing (crashing) it. Fadwa's coaches have just been vindicated again in her competing it..she qualified first, and then won gold. High fives all round! Yet her score of 14.5 could be earned with a sloppy DTY.

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    2. If the gymnast performing the produnova scores in the 14s, the coach should get rid of it. It isn't worth it. A score of 14.5 could be earned with a great 1.5 yurchenko.

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    3. One of Pena's got over a 15, the Zibo one- 15.7 I think? But generally 14's for both girls. Which does make it a worthless vault.

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  3. Terrifying and very irresponsible coaching.

    I don't think the vault should be banned either - but the code and judging need to make the deductions so severe so as to not make it worthwhile to perform it unsafely like this. At the moment the problem is that there is sadly reward for performing a vault like this.

    I think the reason we have seen such few attempts is simply because (thankfully) the vast majority of coaches wouldn't have their athlete attempt it if it puts them at such serious risk.

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    1. I don't see any argument for not banning it, myself. I get that it's drastic and maybe someone can nail it consistently in the future, but it's a very ugly vault and very hard on the knees/ankles even when perfect so I'll live without it!

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  4. I don't want it banned. Someone might be able to do it in the future. I like the vault, at least when Produnova did it. However, if they would dock execution more for it especially for non-landings, maybe they won't try it as much.

    Coaches are responsible, if they see that their student is not even close to doing it, they should stop them doing it.

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    1. It's the forward landing that makes it much more dangerous than a Yurchenko double back. Also, the US home of the powerful vaulters essentially give up handspring varieties quite early, since the codes even way before elite reward yurchenkos so much. I just don't think it's worth it.

      Many gymnasts were mastering roll-out skills long after Mukhina's accident..Shushunova, Davydova, even He Xuemei and Khorkina in the 90's...in fact they have a much greater 'success' rate than Produnova's do. The fact that someone could do it in the future is not enough of an incentive given that right now there are girls doing it who have no business doing it, who are rewarded for doing, and who are in grave danger of serious injuries.

      Rick from gymnastics coaching wants it banned, which is very powerful validation.

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  5. Personally, the rise in the number of Produnova vaults in the past few years doesn't surprise me. If the COP favors difficulty, then who's to stop the gymnasts from performing difficult skills? Yes, I do agree it's bad coaching, and you're putting your career/life at risk just by training the Produnova, but it's the Code's fault in the end.
    I don't blame the gymnasts for trying a more difficult vault to challenge the United States of Amanar, but it's not worth it when you can do an easier vault and score higher. Also, think of all the ACL tears this year...
    I think (like so many others) the scoring should go back to 10.0. Yes, the Produnova vault was invented in 1999 with the Old Code, but if you provide no incentive for the vault (i.e. getting a maximum of 10 no matter what), then what's the point of performing it?

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    1. I'm not sure any of them were vault related? Far more common on beam and floor dismounts. ACL is generally a bad luck injury, few enough are like Mustafina's where her vault landing was screaming it. But serious and all as an ACL is, it's vastly different from the dangers the Produnova poses.

      I'd like something in between. The 10 code did not reward difficulty and saw too many clean and dull cookie cutter routines win over real innovation, originality and difficulty. But the open-ended code sure isn't perfect, where execution comes after difficulty. The rythmic code judges under execution, artistry and difficulty. That could be the answer.

      It was actually invented in 1980, same on the men's side. However, I think increasing the fall deduction say for instance someone does an incredible vault, has slightly too much momentum and then puts their hands down, and boom, they're last but lots of easier seriously sloppy vaults easily bypass it? That is an imperfect solution in my eyes and not something I'd be 100% happy with. Chuck it out of the code altogether.

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    2. I feel like maybe there should be a range of deductions for falls like there is for steps. Like if just your hands touch, 1 point but if you fall on your face or head two points.

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