I survived Montreal Worlds

One of the most popular memes from Worlds 2017.

via GymNerds Montreal

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 rouletteAudrys 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

Published by

Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

9 thoughts on “I survived Montreal Worlds”

  1. The arena was outdated and they refused to change the poor lighting after gymnasts complained, a shocking discovery. Several gymnasts didn’t have podium training (they’ve talked about it so it’s not a rumor) and not enough buses were on hand to transport people to and from the training hall. Worse Worlds ever. Feel sorry for the reputation Canada’s gotten but I wouldn’t want a competition back there. I prefer the organization and hospitality of Glasgow.


    1. Some good points. Thanks amirak101.

      Glasgow was the best. I doubt any site can do better. In fact I’m planning to go to Europeans 2018 Glasgow because I like that venue so much.

      Perhaps 2018 will yet be moved to Glasgow.


  2. I think its about time the FIG changes rules that actually HELP gymnasts, not hurt them. They should ALWAYS be able to warm up before competition. When the athletes complained about the lights they could have been changed or altered some way in order for the gymnasts to compete the best they can. Not sure about the equipment ? Why did they not have enough time to practice on it? I have been a fan of this sport since 1972 and I do not understand all the changes in this sport since then. I believe most of them were Bruno’s doing, and it seemed to me that he really did not like gymnastics all that much. I would love to see retired gymnasts from all countries weigh in on all the changes the sport goes through. I know that elite gymnasts cannot comment on the FIG, but I for one think its time for real changes to this sport . Changes that enhance not hamper it.


  3. Years ago you mentioned why not use fig approved double mini landing mats on vault. I think this was a fantastic idea. If you watch Kohei’s landing it was super clean and well executed. I really can’t figure why/how he got hurt. He looked as if he didn’t didn’t even know until he took two steps. Like you I am angry that my hero couldn’t repeat for a 7th time. I wonder if now that fig’s chairman is Japanese and the best gymnast of all time (Japanese) was hurt that their won’t be changes coming.

    I know you have an audience of some sort with fig being a lecturer, is there anyway we can get a grassroots movement going to get double mini mats as standard???

    Again thank you again for this site which has been the first thing I look at every day for over 10 years.


    1. Thanks Peace. I will bring up the idea AGAIN of double-mini landing mats for Vault. I do fear the guys will simply compete even harder Vaults. Happily, MTC banned the triple front.


      1. I dont think the lighting led to injuries. I think it led to falls specifically in wag. I think it was 2 gymnasts who said the light directly above them stunned them when they were doing leaps with heads tilted back (I’m sorry I can’t remember who said it but I think one was Ponor?). Recall that the lighting is concert lighting and they were directly over apparatus with the rest of the arena in darkness so thats a very intense focus on the gymnasts. The lights should’ve at least been off to the side and indirectly away from them if they werent going to turn them down.

        And I didnt like not giving gymnasts free food in the training hall. Not a buffet or anything but traditionally snacks are served (even during the competition) bcuz caloric intake is so important. Chips, fruit and such, would not have broke the budget


Leave a Reply to Rick Mc Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.