If you, like me, have been confused about the controversy regarding Olympic selection, read closely the best article posted to date. From Inside Gymnastics:
… The wild card announcement confirms that three silver medalists from Stuttgart–Aljaz Pegan (high bar, Slovenia), Yuri Van Gelder (rings, Netherlands) and Krisztian Berki (pommel horse, Hungary)–will not be in Beijing. Pegan, the 2005 high bar world champ, has never made it to a Games, despite more than a decade as a superstar on his best event.
All told, 11 men, all of whom were/are either event finalists at the 2007 World Championships or currently ranked in the top ten of the World Cup standings (as of 2/15/08), will NOT be in Beijing. That number includes three former world champions, four 2007 world medalists and one defending Athens medalist. That’s almost a dozen legitimate medal threats shut out of what is supposed to be the sport’s preeminent event.
In addition to Pegan, Van Gelder and Berki, also MIA in Beijing will be…
Regulo Carmon (Venezuela): Fifth on rings in Stuttgart and currently ranked 2nd in the World Cup standings. Vlasios Maras (Greece): The 2001 World Champ and silver medalist in 2006, he’s currently ranked 2nd in the World Cup standings and was a finalist in Stuttgart. Ri Se Gwang (North Korea): The bronze medalist on vault in Stuttgart. Ri Jong Song (North Korea): Fourth on vault in Stuttgart. Philippe Rizzo (Australia): Currently ranked fourth in the high bar World Cup standings. Yevgeny Sapronenko (Latvia): The current Olympic silver medalist on vault and 3rd in the current World Cup rankings. Robert Seligman (Croatia): Currently ranked 6th on horse in the World Cup standings. Jeffery Wammes (Netherlands): Stuttgart high bar finalist, currently ranked 4th on vault and 9th on floor in the World Cup standings. Yernar Yerimbetov (Kazakhstan): Eighth on vault in the current World Cup standings. Filip Yanev (Bulgaria): Tenth on vault in the current World Cup standings. …
Not to mention Prashanth Sellathurai (Australia) who everyone knows could win an Olympic medal on Pommels.
These are potential Olympic finalists. Frustrating the fans in those countries is a mistake. Obviously FIG has to rework the selection criteria for Men. Perhaps only 6 full teams should qualify, instead of the current 12 teams. That would make room for more individual competitors.
Does it make sense to you to leave a superstar like this out of the Olympics? Click PLAY or watch Sapronenko on Vault on YouTube.
UPDATE: See Van Gelder win rings at Doha with 16.650 – YouTube video
It’s not an issue on the Women’s side:
… none of the female event finalists from Stuttgart, nor any women currently ranked in the top ten of the World Cup standings on any event, is shut out of Beijing.
Fact is that far fewer nations are able to train female gymnasts to the Olympic level. The rules are simply too tough.