One of the most popular memes from Worlds 2017.
The number of meet-ending injuries was shocking.
But was the number of injuries at 2017 Worlds more than usual? I’m not sure. I recall some very bad Worlds.
FIG tracks those numbers. In the past I’ve seen the FIG Worlds medical report. It won’t be published for some weeks, I expect.
But I’ve not seen that report released publicly for many years. I’ve requested a copy from one of the FIG Medical Commission.
This year meet ending injuries were suffered by some of the highest profile gymnasts: Kohei Uchimura (ankle on Vault in competition), Ragan Smith (ankle in training), Larisa Iordache (Achilles on Floor in training), Vanessa Ferrari (Achilles on Floor in competition).
Social media is the main source of competition information for many people. Injuries were very quickly communicated from those in the arena. More so than in the past. Five major injuries occurred in one subdivision of MAG preliminaries. That set off the gymternet alarm. Ready to quit the sport, I had to take a long walk to calm down.
In the cases of Vanessa and Larisa Achilles rupture was predictable. Both arrived in Montreal knowing there was a chance it could happen. I can’t blame the venue. The same thing happened to Alicia Sacramone at Worlds Tokyo 2011.
Those who jumped on the Montreal broke the gymnasts meme reminded me of the old similarly wrong over-simplification: Marta broke the girls.
Gymnastics is a very dangerous sport. It’s most dangerous when athletes used to landing on mats in the pit have to try to stick a Vault on competition mats. It’s Russian roulette. Audrys Nin Reyes was a favourite to medal on Vault. He was injured on landing just like Kohei.
Kyle Shewfelt had 2 serious injuries over 3 Olympics. One landing on competition Floor. The other landing a competition Vault. (Kyle said Kohei’s injury looked similar to his on Vault.)
If you worry about the health of your favourite gymnast, worry most when they compete Floor and Vault. They are much, much safer training in their own Gym.
Was lighting in the training Gyms or competition Gym a factor?
Possibly. But not a big factor I don’t expect.
Was insufficient practice time in the competition Gym a factor?
Yes. In my opinion.
That facility sat empty much of the time before the start of competition. Why not offer a second podium training? Why not allow more time / gymnast? FIG could easily correct this for Doha.
Podium training was bungled too for some gymnasts. Petrounias, for example. Lack of chalk and timing errors are the fault of the organizing committee. Not FIG.
Did the gymnasts have enough time on the new Gymnova equipment?
No, in some cases. The U.S. men had not used the Gymnova vault horse before arrival in Montreal. Donnell Whittenburg, one of the favourites, said he couldn’t get used to it in time.
On the other hand, some nations planned to get time on the Worlds equipment. China spent a week training on Gymnova in Alberta before arriving Montreal, for example. Smart. Japan and Brazil trained at INS Montreal before the official Worlds training gyms opened.
Russia said gymnasts were not allowed to prepare WAG Bars for their teammates. That’s a big safety concern, in my opinion. FIG should reevaluate that rule immediately.
But were the Montreal Worlds cursed?
Was the venue too old and flawed?
No. It was a far better than average World Championships. I congratulate FIG, the Worlds organizing committee and all those volunteers for getting 99% of things right.
If you disagree, please leave a comment.
related – Spotlight Gymnastics – The flip side of the medal – Montreal 2017