Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

The Uneven Bars Tiebreaker Explained

Let's take a crack at understanding the obscure tiebreaker that gave China's He Kexin the uneven-bars gold medal over the United States' Nastia Liukin.

Here's a breakdown of the scoring process:

And here's Liz Clarke's effort to explain it over the phone from Beijing ...

By Jon DeNunzio  |  August 18, 2008; 2:56 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Volleyball: Men's Team to Quarters
Next: Phelps Visits Redeem Team


Why even have a tiebreaker? Why not just award two golds, which has happened in other events?

Posted by: ah | August 18, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

So the total deductions by the 3 least-deducting judges were 2.8 for He and 2.9 for Liukin. This seems like an awfully arbitrary tie-breaker. Why don't they ignore the judge with the least deductions as well as the one with the most?

Posted by: Richard | August 18, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

It would be nice to see a professionals commentary on what resulted in these two girls routine's deductions. Where and when in the routine did these girls get the deduction. I do realize this is probably subject to much debate, but reviewing the two routines, Where did He make less mistakes than Liukin? I know everyone saw He's mistake at the dis-mount with the extra step. Where was Liukin's greater mistake(s)?

Posted by: Adam | August 18, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Why even have a tiebreaker? Why not just award two golds, which has happened in other events?

The IOC, for some reason, doesn't want to hand out duplicate medals anymore. So they asked the gymnastics federation to use one. From what I've read there are no tiebreakers in other international gymnastics competitions.

Posted by: Mike | August 18, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

The U.S Women have been getting robbed since this Olympics began. They tried to steal the all around from Liucan and Johnson but their performances saved the day...even though there were deductions that I could not see. Also, we had Johnson losing to a Chinese "Child" gymnast who fell on her vault landing. Bela Karolyi has been spot on with his complaints regarding the judging. China and the IOC has been a joke throughout the '08 Olympics.

Posted by: Kevin K | August 18, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

They both shoud deserve Golds.

Posted by: Ivan | August 18, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

award tow golds is the best choice,Longlive USA

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The judges in the women's gymnastics competition have been biased against the U.S. from the start, most glaringly in the individual overall competition. The Russians should be the most angered, as their gymnast that ended up in fourth place was actually better than the Chinese girl who won the bronze medal. The judges kept awarding Chinese gymnasts higher scores than they earned/deserved (as explained numerous times by Bella Karolyi -- sp?). This was particularly obvious in the balance beam segment of the individual competition, where despite wobbling often and executing a fairly simple routine compared with both Nastia and Shawn, the Chinese girl ended up with a score quite close to the best American score. Also, on the uneven bars, despite the fact that the Chinese girl took a step forward while Shawn stuck her landing (and also had a difficult routine), the Chinese was awarded an unusually high score anyway. Then in the individual event vault competition yesterday, the Chinese girl ended up with bronze even though Alicia of the U.S. really outperformed her (as argued by a number of experts, including Bella). I liked his comment that no gymnast should be awarded an olympic medal of any sort after falling on her face. And despite less-than-ideal performances, these Chinese gymnasts, a least one of whom is probably under age, were rewarded with favoritism by the judges. Therein lies the problem with these subjective sports. At least in swimming and track, for example, the fastest wins, period.

Posted by: Margot | August 18, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The IOC is being ridiculous about this. A tie is a tie. The two athletes took different paths and got the same result. I think that the IOC is actually going against the spirit of the competition when it breaks ties based on how the athletes achieved the result.

What if two sprinters tie in the 100 meters? Would the IOC say that the medal goes to the one who ran the first half of the race the fastest? Of course they wouldn't. If they tried to do that, they know they would look ridiculous. But they can get away with it in gymnastics because the rules are too hard for the public to understand.

Posted by: TomR | August 18, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

everyone i have spoken to have the same criticisms.
Judging is extremely arbitrary, that it's not even worth it to argue. You see judges, who are supposed to follow a set format, with discrepencies among themselves. In the same performance, you can see a 8.0 up to 9.5... how can "experts" be that far apart if they all operate under the same assumptions of deductions?

My suggestion was a button that deducts .05 and .1 points, and a computer that tracks and records when they hit each button. So when asked where the deductions cmae? they can go back to tape and see "ok at 1.46 in, she took off .2 for that mistake" Rather than just saying "that's the sport"...

Posted by: Angry | August 18, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Why have a tie-break in the first place? There is already enough human error and bias that goes into scoring these events, why add more fuel to the fire? A tie is a tie.

So long as you are going to have an obselete system of scoring, there should be no replays. If you scored the competitors as tied the first time around, than the tie should stand and both be awarded a gold medal.

Posted by: John | August 18, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

U folks get what u deserve. Too much gym coverage in any olympics here in the USA. It is forced down our throats at every opportunity. What arcane rules. Do u ever see this sport other than at olympic times? Get a life. These two were great. So give them both medals and no bronze.

Posted by: MSP | August 18, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I am SO UPSET at the ripoff by the Australian 'judge'. Her name is Helen Colaguiri and her email is I urge everyone here to write her a polite note and let her know the world has been watching her unfair and biased scoring against Nastia, which cost her a gold medal. The evidence that Helen has some kind of bias against Nastia is obvious when you look at Helen's scoring compared to ALL of the other judges. Helen's stands out alone as the worst, by a wide margin. And therefore, something obviously is wrong. Hopefully we can shine a light on this 'judge' and keep it from happening again.

Posted by: Dal | August 18, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

A rule is A rule. U.S. is a powerful country, I am sure you guys can change the rule. But do it before the games, not after the games.

Posted by: One | August 18, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

By the way, does anyone know why the tie-breaker rule was changed in 1996?

Posted by: Chiara | August 18, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

What I think is truly remarkable is the poise with which Miss Liukin handled the situation. It was out of her control. She did the best she could and was awarded a silver medal in the process. Congratulations!

Now, would everyone else please put this into perspective. A silver medal (or gold, bronze, or lead for that matter) is a reward for achievement. It's not life and death.

Posted by: Arlington | August 18, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

One comedian captured this fracas succinctly: "why is it that after watching the Olympics for an hour, everyone suddenly thinks that they are experts in a sport they've rarely watched before?"

People like Bela Karoyli do not help in this situation - why is he even getting so much coverage? His wife is the coach! It's so unbelievable that NBC is letting him scream and cry (literally) like some lunatic on prime time television when he's basically the coach of the US team.

I for one am proud that the athletes themselves have not descended into this "sour grapes" mode that a lot of the commentators have, and that their own coaches have. If the scoring process is flawed, complain about it and work to fix it, but don't denigrate the sport with such pettiness.

Posted by: rhadams | August 18, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

By the way I just looked up this morning's men's vault results and believe it or not, there was a tie at 16.537 points each with one vaulter getting gold and the other silver going through the same tie-breaker formula as here with the uneven bars. There is next to nothing written about this in the press so far.

Posted by: Neil | August 18, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

It'll be fun to watch how many golds China wins in 2012. That'll tell their true worth. They are getting preferential treatment in these games no doubt.

Posted by: SD | August 18, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

A lot of these comments make me embarrassed to be an American. The athletes themselves have acted exceptionally and with dignity but what is it that makes my fellow countrymen whine so much when we don't win or get our way? It's pathetic. From Hillary Clinton to the husband of the American gymnastics coach...the lesson is: if we don't come out on top, "we wuz robbed." That is so DUMB.

Posted by: Dan | August 18, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh Dan, most internet message boards are filled with whiners of whatever nationality predominates. No nation holds a monopoly on whining sore losers.

Posted by: Chris | August 18, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"why is it that after watching the Olympics for an hour, everyone suddenly thinks that they are experts in a sport they've rarely watched before?"

That's hilarious and totally right on.

To all the the people complaining about preferential treatment for the Chinese in their own country - did you say the same thing when the Americans won the most medals by far (174) in Los Angeles in 1984? I doubt it. Hypocrites!

Posted by: Jesse | August 18, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Counting deductions as a tiebreaker also is a kind of double jeopardy, since the deductions were used once to determine the score which resulted in the tie. Using them a second time as a tiebreaker makes no sense.

I'm with the suggestion that the IOC should have awarded two golds.

BTW: Does this tie-breaking rule apply to all Olympic events, or just to gymnastics?!

Posted by: eregelma | August 18, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

IMHO this is exactly why "judged" sports should not be contested at the Olympics.

Scoring, and results of Olympic events should not be subjective.

Posted by: MDLaxer | August 18, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I am truly disappointed at how many people really believe that the athletes are not effected by what happened. Though I think Liukin behaved properly as she should have does not mean she wasn't upset or disgusted by what happened. I know we are not experts but if you don't see obvious bias than you are just blind.

As for the whining, as an American, it is my right and privilege to do so on behalf of our fellow Americans who at the time of the offense could not act out and look like spoiled children.

Posted by: Millie | August 18, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, something to be proud of. Your right to whine and act like a spoiled child on behalf of your fellow Americans. That's really a lovely lesson to teach, Millie.

Posted by: MJ | August 18, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Different situation. No Russians (I know, no Soviet Union) meant that one of the largest and most successful delegations wasn't there. Of course the US was going to win big.

Posted by: LA in '84 | August 18, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Who is saying that you can't whine and fume like a spoiled child? Continue if you wish, but it's undignified and only contributes to the "ugly American" image that we have in the world. Again I say it that I'm proud of the athletes for both winning and losing with dignity; dignity which their own coaches and some casual spectators do not have.

So please, continue to whine, if you please. Perhaps by 2012 in London, the IOC will make this an official rule - "#1: Only athletes who appear over the age of 48 from the United States of America may win the gold medal in any gymnastics event."

To those saying we should not have "subjectively"-scored sports in the Olympics, that's just absurd. Why not? Because it's difficult to judge? So we should just not do things which are difficult to do? Regardless of the fact that the "subjectively"-scored sports are often the most interesting to watch?

Also, they didn't "suddenly" decide to make "falling on your face" a "small" .3 deduction. This is how it has been, and it would have applied to any athlete. It's a little sickening to be outraged after the fact - if one of the American athletes had fallen, would you have been screaming like a drunken Bela Karolyi for them to automatically lose? Of course not.

Posted by: rhadams | August 18, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

1) I will not try to second-guess human error or bias in judging;
2) Nastia behandles herself like a true olympian and (co-)champion.
3) As long as the rule is set beforehand, I have no problem with it. The same tie-breaker is used in men's vault today - and I didn't heard a lot of support for the French siler mealist.
4) Last but not last, please and please do not use Bella Korolyi's NBC comment to support you arguments. Would you use a judge's wife's comment to support a judge's decision?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

The USA also won big in Atlanta in 1996, WITH the Russians in attendance.

I think what a lot of this comes down to is an antiquated cold war mentality that creeps into the Olympics and which is often instigated by the media.

When it comes to the Chinese, I say - be afraid, be very afraid. Not because they're going to dominate the world with communism. But because they're so good and disciplined at so many things. I for one am impressed.

Posted by: Jesse | August 18, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Can we please remove GOP D Student McFailure's post from this board seeing as it has nothing to do with the Olympics. As much as I enjoy reading a post that takes me five minutes to scroll through and talks about a French power company, I would prefer to read about something relevant to why I came in here. I also LOVE the way the post seems to be trying to lead the board in a chant at various points.

Anyway, after watching various sports that involve judging at the past few Olympics, the IOC needs to have some form of review process for its judges and some way to record when/where they took deductions (like a poster earlier mentioned). At least then we could expect/hope judging would improve from competition to competition. Since I've watched, I haven't really seen any improvement. It always seems like there is at least one athlete that gets shafted by the judging.

Posted by: deacshades | August 18, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Can we please all keep in mind that EVERY country complains in events that are judged that their athletes are getting robbed. Throwing around comments regarding China's communism does nothing to strengthen Liukin's case. The spirit of all the gymnasts is the most admirable trait here.

Posted by: Annie | August 18, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

personally i preferred them to repeat the performance until the tie is broken. but some of the comments here are so stupid. this tie-breaking rule, though arbitrary, is definitely not complicated.
most of you seem to think the only deduction come from landing. there are plenty of mistakes in the air, eg bent elbow, crossing the feet etc
for those blaming the australian judge, her score didn't even count because the lowest and highest are already thrown out. also the same can be said for the polish judge who gave liukin a 9.3 when no one else gave such a high score.
also regarding the women's vault competition. the chinese girl's A score is 0.9 higher than alicia for the two vaults. a fall is 0.8 deduction. the chinese girl also performed better in the first vault. thus making up the difference. alicia should never have entered the final with a vault that only has 5.8 difficulty.

Posted by: james | August 18, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I understand the confusion and resentment over the American gymnast not being equally recognized with the Chinese gymnast... so I won't bother commenting on that.

However, I did notice several comments address the apparently very different scores from judges looking at the same competitor/routine. You have to keep in mind that gymnastics is like figure skating in that there is a very artistic aspect to the sport. Different body types and styles are going to fit different events. For instance, compare Liukin with her teammate Johnson: they have two very different styles and body types and that shows in their performances in competition.

A previous poster mentioned the Australian judge and her apparent preferential treatment of the Chinese gymnast He. It's possible that's true, but it's also possible that the Australian judge liked He's execution and style better. The Australian have He 9.30 and Liukin 9.00... but the Polish judge did nearly the opposite, giving He a 9.10 and Liukin a 9.30.

Posted by: K215 | August 18, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Notice how no one is complaining about the tie breaker on men's vault.

Also, preferential treatment was shown by each judge. One favored He, one favored Liukin, and one favored Yang. Quit griping.

Posted by: Jay | August 18, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Before the Americans scream bias, I believe the results were due to different style preferences.

The 6 judges are split where they rank the gymnasts with 1/3 of them like each of the medalist over the other 2. So it isn't like they all wanted He to win over Nastia. 2 of them actually like Yang. The differences seems to be that NONE of the judges ranked He the lowest.

Posted by: Pat | August 18, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

The first tiebreaker should be "Is the contestant eligible in the first place?" The Chinese team should have been disqualified for fielding team members under the eligible age. Certainly the underage contestants should be DQed. He Kexin was listed as 13 in November 2007 by a Chinese state news service. Jiang Yuyuan’s birth date has magically evolved from one that makes her 15 in October to another that makes her 16 in November.

Posted by: Andy | August 18, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I would rather have a silver medal through fair and honest work than win a gold by cheating. Flaunting the age restrictions. awarding medals to gymnasts who fall during their routines--that's what your Olympics will be remembered for, China. Hope it was worth it.

P.S. This isn't just a US issue. Think of the countries who got unfairly stuck in third and fourth places because of this BS.

Posted by: Tirade | August 18, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

This convulated crap is stupid. Either do one of two things: Just award two goddamn golds, or have the athletes do their routines again and see who comes out on top. If this happens again in the beam finals, I hope Bella and Martha file a protest.

Posted by: Matt | August 18, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Two golds? Are you kidding me? This is the Olympics. Not the Special Olympics. Each event should have one winner and one winner only.

Posted by: Julian | August 18, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Those are the rules. China didn't make them up. The rules were in place after the Atlanta Games; nobody said anything for 10 years until American interests were at stake. Why don't they complain back then? None of the judges are Chinese. One Aussie, One Kiwi, Two EU nations, Brazil and Russia. If anythings, the Aussies and EU guys would have helped US team. Any way, don't hate the player hate the game.

Posted by: Joe | August 18, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Good lord people. If this had been the other way around, it'd be 'a rule's a rule!'. The U.S. helped form the rule - it should have to live with it. Bela actually doesn't care what age the girls are, just that there is a rule - and he wants that rule enforced. He'd like 12 year olds to be able to compete if they could.

Posted by: HP | August 18, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I enjoy watching gymnastics and really appreciate the athletism involved. I have always had an issue with scoring whether it favored the US or not. My problem is the subjectivity involved. It frustrates me to see a person perform an event that to my untrained eye looked clearly better, lose. I'd be lying if I didn't think about a judges bias in how they scored. Look back to that winter olympics when the canadian figure skaters lost because of the french judge (I seem to recall quite a large uproar in our country about that). The very nature of subjective scoring is enough to make anyone skeptical. I agree with all the people who said two golds should be awarded.

Posted by: Kevin | August 18, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Had the situation been reversed and the American athlete won the gold medal, the American media would not be covering this "controversy." Very few persons, if any, in this blog would complain the Chinese woman was unfairly deprived of her gold medal. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is these people are jingoistic whiners, who need to more carefully contemplate what the Olympics are supposed to be about, the Olympic ideals, not the pervasive jingoism, greed, commercialism and professionalism.

Posted by: Independent | August 18, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Obama will fix it

Posted by: It's a Duck | August 18, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

It's so outrageous to keep blaming China for the scores. There is not a single Chinese judge on the panel. All of the judges come from European or Western countries. If there is "influence" or "cheating" coming from somewhere, it can only be shown in innuendo or rumor. Since when did those replace solid evidence?

Two golds *should not* be awarded because the rules of the competition, including this tiebreaker provision, were known well in advance of the games.

And just because the mighty Bela Karolyi thinks that the scoring should be changed *after the fact* doesn't make him right. Falling down carries a set deduction! You can't just say that it should automatically disqualify a competitor because you don't like who actually won. If Sacramone had fallen, you certainly would not be demanding the same thing.

Posted by: rhadams | August 18, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

According to Chinese government sources, Ms. He Kexin is 14 years old.
Under the IOC ruling, Ms. He has no qualification to be there at the 2008 Olympics.
The IOC is getting crazy.
Do not know if Beijing has bought their mind and mouth.

Posted by: lyz95 | August 18, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

as the parent of a competitive gymnast, i have seen for the past 7 years the problem with the subjectivity in the sport. first of all, judges are familiar with seasoned gymnasts, as they have seen them compete over the years. because of this, i believe, the judge enters with an expectation (conscious or not) of the forthcoming performance. just like a pitcher in baseball gets the "inside corner" if the umpire is familiar with him, so too will a gymnast benefit who, ordinarily keeps her legs straight, get the benefit of the doubt when they are bent. similarly - and this is a challenge faced by the likes of shawn johnson - judges apparently favor long lean lines on floor and bars. listen to the commentators: graceful, ballet-like. ms. johnson's (a true role model for my daughter) physique is more like a linebacker than a dancer.

regarding the complaint about subjectivity: gymnastics and skating are not alone. though i support the "redeem team 100%), the fact is during the game against spain, chris bosh's hands were behind his back and up the tuchas of the man he was defending. but the referees made no call. he's a basketball player, not a proctologist.

Posted by: gr8folks | August 18, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

There is undoubtable favoritism in the judging for the Chinese and against the Americans.

1) Yang Yilin bobbled on her AA beam at least four times, and scored only .2 lower than Shawn and Nastia, each who were near flawless.

2) Cheng Fei landed on her knees (!), and still scored higher than Alicia, who had but two minor hops.

3) He beat Nastia. Without the previous two, there would be less controversy. But you wonder if the UB final was rigged.

Still, the uneven bars don't annoy me as much as the vault, but it's disturbing. Technically, He beat Nastia, but they were equally good. Why?


It's unfair. They kept the three lowest scores to determine the winner. If you look closely, if they had thrown out all but the two middle scores, Nastia wins. Nastia got her results through more of an extreme (the highest is higher; the lowest is lower). Nevertheless, she got those results, just like He.

There is enough subjectivity in gymnastics to begin with. Why increase it?

P.S. To the people who disagree with me, answer this one question: If two people tie for first, how can one person be better?

If anyone has an answer, they should enroll themselves into a school for the mentall gifted.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Bruce, can't answer.

Posted by: Tom | August 18, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

My name's not 'Bruce,' dude. It's John.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I agree with John/Bruce/Anonymous. The American girls are having to work extra hard to get medals while the Chinese can leisurely complete their routines less-than-perfect and still get the same score.

Is it just me, or is there something wrong with that?

Posted by: Warren | August 18, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

"There is undoubtable favoritism in the judging for the Chinese and against the Americans."

Are you an olympic judge? Do you actually know all of the points/deductions for all of the events?

If two people tie for first, one person wins because of the PRE-DETERMINED tiebreaker rules.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I just listened to Liz Clark's explanation. I agree with almost everything except: why?

Why is there a problem with awarding two medals?

Posted by: Tristin | August 18, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

"If two people tie for first, one person wins because of the PRE-DETERMINED tiebreaker rules."

But how is that fair? The person with a higher degree of extremes will always lose because of the tiebreaking rules. How is that fair?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

"Why is there a problem with awarding two medals?"

Maybe the Olympic committee has just enough Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals to give out, and if there's a tie, they have an extra Silver and not enough Gold.

Posted by: Roger | August 18, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

"If there's a tie, they have an extra Silver and not enough Gold."

That can't be it, because Lezak and the Brazilian both won Bronze in the 100m freestyle, and two people, I think, each won a Silver in another swimming meat.

I think the reason is that the Olympics are to decide 'who is the best?' and since you can't decide that with a tie, you have a tiebreaker.

"Have the athletes do their routines again and see who comes out on top."

That's a possibility. It's certainly more fair than the tiebreakers that the IOC cooked up.

To answer Anonymous of 7:32 P.M.'s question, he is right, because the tiebreaker that is present is not fair, because, as he says, the one with the lower extremes will always win.

Posted by: Patrick | August 18, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I think any home team has an advantage - even more so with subjective sports. I felt for Shawn Johnson, whose more muscular body almost certainly cost her some points. Although I admire gymnasts' abilities, I prefer sports like swimming or running, where a win is simply a win.

My compliments to Johnson and Liukin, who continue to handle themselves with grace, professionalism and maturity.

Regarding the young Chinese athletes, of course they're "cheating," but who cares? These children competed in World competitions and weren't good enough to beat Johnson - logically, their age shouldn't have been an unfair advantage in the Olympics.

As for non-Americans out there who are scolding us for our patriotism, get real. I travel internationally fairly often, and foreign press is full of the same sort of whining and biased patriotism.

Posted by: Another Anon | August 18, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Sports have objective measures for scoring (e.g., Basketball, Softball, ping pong, shotput, races in swimming & track, weight-lifting). But things like Diving, Dressage, all of gymnastics are not sport - they are art. These activities are art because they don't require objective measures; they are judged. Real sports have umpires and referees. Arts activities have judges.

Sure these Summer Olympics art activities require great skill and atheleticism but until someone figures out how to objectively measure them they will remain art in my opinion.

Posted by: Jan | August 18, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I have a HUGE problem with what happened today. To start, the Chinese bother me to begin with, because of the bias going on against the Americans in the first place. To count, Nastia has been cheated in the Olympics now, FIVE TIMES! FIVE!

1) In Qualification, Nastia did a beam routine just as good as that in the All-Around, and she scored .25 lower.

2) In the All-Around, Nastia's vault was flawless, perfect, and let the judges found .5 to take off... WHERE!!!??

3) In the All-Around, Nastia did a near-perfect uneven bars routine, even with a big step. The judges found .8 to take off her routine, excluding the big step... WHERE!!!??

4) In the floor finals, Nastia stuck all of her landings, yet scored lower than the All-Around, when she missed one or two.

5) Today, Nastia tied for first, but she wasn't recognized for it.

Think about every other major sport that exists in the United States: if there is tie, keep playing (extra innings, overtime, sudden death).

Just keep playing. I agree with Patrick that the Olympics are not meant to result in ties, as well that the appropriate tiebreaker is a 'sudden death' match. There cannot be any favoritism.

I do not believe in ties, but I don't believe in what they did: They found some small difference in the routine that separate the two gymnasts and awarded the prize.

It's as if one swimmer one a tiebreaker because his turn was better, or, or if he took longer strokes.

Either way, it's the same result. Cause and effect. Different cause. Same effect.

That's wrong. One person makes a romantic comedy; another makes a disaster film. Each one is up for the Oscar.

Enough examples?

By wiping the slate clean and entering a 'sudden death' round, it determines a winner based on DIFFERENT results!

Who knows if Nastia could've won? Because of the stupid judges, we'll never know.


If Nastia had ACTUALLY lost to He, I would be upset, yes, but not as *thinking* disgusted as I am now. The medal was, in actuality, stolen from her. She hadn't done anything less than He, up to that point, and she wasn't rewarded.

The 'sudden death' would reveal if He actually deserved that gold. But until a 'sudden death' is performed, don't rip a person's Gold from their grasp for a bad reason.

Maybe a baseball example will help. Bottom of the 9th, World Series, Game 7, Team A down by one, bases loaded, two outs, Player A drills a shot to deep center field, but right at the outfielder. Everything right, but got nothing.

As I said before, Nastia didn't do anything wrong.

He Kexin will now be recognized all over China for something she didn't really do yet. In my mind, He and Nastia are tied, and until they play it out, they each deserve a gold. Plain and simple.

Posted by: Quentin | August 18, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse


There were judging variations everywhere throughout each competition, not only against the Americans. A bit myopic of you.

Please read up on the code before calling cross-board bias. I don't have time to do the math for you. I'm sure you can head over to the International Gymnast forum where they have broken it down beautifully, revealing that two judges favored Nastia by a large margin on the UB EF. Also, Nastia had split legs during landing which can easily cost up to a .3 deduction.

Also, realistically, Yang deserved the gold. Her performance was the cleanest of them all and her pirouettes were flawless. He and Nastia should've tied for silver. Even Liukin admitted that she thought Yang was underscored.

The Americans helped form the tie breaker rule after Atlanta. Now that American interests are at stake, it becomes unfair? I agree that the rule should be doused, but do either do it before or after the games, not DURING it.

Posted by: Joker | August 18, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Although I hate the tie break rule, China did FAIRLY receive the fewest deductions (despite their steps and wobbles) based on the following:

They have almost flawless form.

Deductions are not just wobbles/steps

Cowboy saltos is a deduction

Unglued legs is a deduction

Knee bending is a deduction

Lack of amplitude deducts

Weak kips is deducts

Not hitting a handstand at the top is a deduction

Arching your hand stand is a deduction

The Chinese as a whole are much cleaner than the rest of the field if you consider the most common deductions listed above. Thus, they receive fewer deductions overall.

Posted by: Education | August 18, 2008 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't accept that He won the gold...

1) she was not on the same level as Liukin. He is underage and shouldn't've been competing in these games in the first place.

2) If you end up tied, with the same difficulty and the same execution, take two golds or play it out. Don't demote an athlete for a stupid reason.

To Nastia: 'We are sorry you were cheated out of gold today. Remember, you've already kicked serious Chinese butt in the all-around and the floor, and you and Shawn should show 'em who's boss a third time in the beam.'

Posted by: Google | August 18, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

By the way, the only women's gymnastics event that has been close to fair is the team competition. Every other event has a scent of bias in it.

All-around: Yang got a great score even though she bobbled on beam; Nastia executed a perfect vault and lost .5 points; Shawn deserved more on beam with the routine she pulled off

Floor: Close to fair, but Nastia stuck all her landings and was better than in the AA, but her score was lower

Vault: No question about it - Alicia Sacramone was robbed by the judges, who gave Cheng Fei a better-than-average score, AFTER SHE LANDED ON HER ******* KNEES!

Uneven bars: China got the break, AGAIN! Coincidence, I think not!

Beam: The Chinese gymnast fell off the beam twice but scored higher than Shawn and Nastia, each who had perfect routines with perfect landings... oops, I forgot that hasn't happened yet. lol.

In contrast, the Chinese victories in the Men's gymnastics have been perfectly fair. I was actually happy for Yang Wei.

Posted by: By the way... | August 18, 2008 8:57 PM | Report abuse

"Google", et al:

The process for ties was spelled out well in advance of these events. The gymnastics events do not hand out dual medals - unlike other sports. That was known in advance.

The fact that you are somehow blaming He for winning is sour grapes to the max. She did nothing wrong. The American gymnasts understood this, and they were poised and dignified in both victory and in defeat. Nobody was cheated out of gold because the process to break a tie was determined ahead of time.

Posted by: rhadams | August 18, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

rhadams, what country are you from? I bet you would be pissed too if one of your star athletes was cheated out of a gold.

Posted by: Google | August 18, 2008 9:13 PM | Report abuse



ASac did not get robbed. Cheng Fei won fair and square according to the scoring system (which many people dislike, by the way).

It wasn't favoritism or special treatment or a judging error. Cheng had .9 more difficulty then Alicia and Cheng's first vault score over .3 more then any other vault in the final. Bela said Cheng should have lost 1.5 ponts on her vault... well she did, her B-score was an 8.5... she had a cusion of .9, she made a mistake that cost her .8 on her 1 vault and (.4 on her overall average) and passed Alicia by less then .1

It all adds up. I love Alicia, but I don't think this was an unfair call at all.

On UB, YANG YILIN deserved GOLD. She was the CLEANEST, but always winds up being He Kexin's runner-up beeyotch.

And it isn't all "OMG PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT!". The Australian gave He 9.30 and Liukin 9.00... but the Polish judge did nearly the opposite, giving He a 9.10 and Liukin a 9.30. All the other discrepancies you pointed out are faults of the sport. It's subjective, judges judge based on preference in style and artistry. Thus why you see the scores flipped between the Australian judge and Polish judge for Liukin and He.

The 6 judges were split where they ranked the gymnasts. A third of them preferred a different medalist over the other 2. So it isn't like they all wanted He to win over Nastia. 2 of them actually liked Yang. The difference seems to be that NONE of the judges ranked He the lowest.

God, you Americans are rabid. I can understand why you're upset, but did you even see the 1996 Games where the US was given a major boost due to supposed "preferential judging?" And apparently whenever someone brings up the Paul Hamm win, it's "not Paul Hamm's fault?" Well, He Kexin's win isn't her fault either! But, of course, the communist government MUST be bribing the judges. Did the Americans bribe the judges in Atlanta, too?

Regarding the age issue: Please leave it alone. If it comes to light in the coming months, China will be stripped of its medals. Thus far, though, it has followed IOC rules (which are pretty loose, by the way) and USAG refuses to file a formal inquiry. It's a shame, but bringing it up again and again and again after a loss only makes it seem pathetic and transparent to those of us in other countries.

Posted by: Duh | August 18, 2008 9:13 PM | Report abuse

"education" is on point. unless you know how to score (which i don't), criticism is moot. this reminds me of what my wife says about baseball's balk rule: it is purely arbitrary. a shortstop can bird-dog, but a pitcher can't fake a throw to first before delivering to the plate? why is one legal and the other not? because the rule says so. this objectivity/subjectivity argument is nonsense. in swimming and track the top qualifiers get the inside lanes. why? because they had the fastest heat times. look how phelps quashed that argument.

what a great country we must live in if we can argue about such picayune and arcane matters.

Posted by: gr8folks | August 18, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Duh, now that you put it that way, a sort of combination of subjectivity and fairness, I can see your point.

Posted by: Google | August 18, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse


Haha, yes. A lot of people are completely confounded by the complexities. I know it made me hate gymnastics when I first started watching. This is why there's discussion of taking gymnastics out of the games (since it's so controversial). No one can ever be pacified, really. Same with diving.

Posted by: Duh | August 18, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Google, don't give up on the argument. I agree that there is a combination of subjectivity and fairness, but, BUT, Nastia Liukin gave a gold medal performance and got silver. A tie or play-off is better.

Duh, I think you meant to criticize me, but Google didn't compare the favoritism between the women's gymnastics events. I did.

Posted by: By the way... | August 18, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Gives you a headache, doesn't it?

This has been the third consecutively controversial Olympics gymnastics. I'm getting an ulcer.

Posted by: Duh | August 18, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Sorry there, all the names bleed together for me and form one gigantic collective argument.

For the record, I HATE THE TIE BREAK SYSTEM. It's stupid. Blindingly stupid. I think a play-off may be too exhausting, but I agree with rewading double medals.

My opinion of it is that Yang Yilin should've gotten gold. He Kexin and Nastia Liukin should've tied for silver.

Posted by: Duh | August 18, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Alright, you two have been good sports in this argument. I did expect one of you break out into expletives. But, I had a nice discussion and am going to run away (while it's still peaceful) from this article in fear that my head may explode from any more gymnastics controversy.

I wish all the best for the American girls on BB! Shawn John's been a class act. I want her to medal again based solely off of that (yes, I'm a sop). Li Shan Shan and perhaps Cheng Fei too. G'night!

Posted by: Duh | August 18, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse


The United States of America.

But; my - and your - nationality should not matter. I think the whining of the Bela Karolyis (talking about "biasness", whatever that is) of this competition have made the situation worse, not better. The athletes themselves, again, have both won and lost with grace and dignity. It should be the same way with the spectators. Criticise the judging, absolutely, but don't drop down to this level of pettiness.

Posted by: rhadams | August 18, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Even though I don't want to admit it, I like rhadams has some truth going on there.

Posted by: by the way... | August 18, 2008 11:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm in love with Nastia and anytime she doesn't win my heart is broken. I am a dude, and I am admitting my love on the Internet. GO NASTIA! I LOVE YOU! SO, SO, VERY MUCH! MARRY ME!

Posted by: Nastia Fan | August 18, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

This is why we should only have medals won on the playing field rather then someone's mind or a computer!

Posted by: Dan | August 18, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the first tiebreak really the same as the original scores? How would that determine the winner, since
(score) + (deductions) = 10 always?

As I see it, they remove the next lowest score from the original scores.

Posted by: Jon | August 18, 2008 11:31 PM | Report abuse

"The athletes themselves, again, have both won and lost with grace and dignity. It should be the same way with the spectators."

VERY well-said. Rules were set before the games. Had Liukin won the tie-breaker, I am sure Chinese fans would express similar disagreements. Nationality DOES matter, that's why the Olympics are competed by nations.


Posted by: mythaeus | August 18, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

The American TV announcers and analysts get it wrong again! These are sports that winners are based on judgement, nothing else. It is clear that when team "a" has more points then the other team who has one. It is obvious that sports like Gymnastics, Figure Skating, Diving and others are strictly judgmental and will never seem fair to the competitor on the short end of the judgment call. It is nothing more then two people seeing the same event from two different view points. They will never be the same.
Back to my original point about the American TV persons, they sit and second guess these judges all week and they keep getting it wrong, the only one that has been getting it right is the Judges as THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT MATTER. what they say if final. Congrates to He of China, and Boo to Nastia and her sour puss face, that she makes while waiting to be awarded the Second best on the uneven bars in the World. Try some good sportspersonship and perhaps you will get a shot in London.

Posted by: Duane | August 18, 2008 11:41 PM | Report abuse

There never should have been a tie to begin with. Everyone knows the judges have been bias to China from the start. If you haven't seen it your blind. Nastia had the smaller mistakes, but somehow they were tied? Go figure. That's sportsmanship for you. I'm done with the Olympics.

Posted by: Brett | August 18, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

it's really sad to see bad landings, wobbly executions, and other clearly visible flawed routines rewarded w/high scores. it really ruins it for us gymnastics fans/viewers watching.

the only thing that would perfectly explain why every other gymnast is being unfairly penalized, but Chinese gymnasts is that perhaps China paid these judges off. we've seen it in figure skating, why rule out gymnastics?

Posted by: nyc | August 18, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Nastia deserved a gold...but a shared gold. Unfortunately, Americans are forced to watch NBC and therefore forced to digest the propaganda that is spewed from their commentators. Sure gymnastics needs an overhaul in their scoring system, but this is par for the course. Nastia and the Chinese gal had equally good routines...too bad the American commentators consistently reminded viewers of their opinions -which is hardly professional. Their job should be to objectively comment on the event. Not a biased opinion- allowing millions of ppl a skewed account so they can pretend to be experts at the water cooler. Maybe the commentators should state their opinion on the age of the Chinese gymnasts, oh wait, that happens everytime they come onto the screen.

Posted by: T Mac | August 18, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Jon. I don't even see a mathematical point to the first tie breaker. It's just the backwards version of the original score.

Posted by: Brittany | August 18, 2008 11:53 PM | Report abuse

i thought that the second chinese girl was better than both Nastia and He

Posted by: ellie | August 18, 2008 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't it seem weird that Liukin got the silver because she had a lower bottom socre (and therefore a higher top score) while in the men's vault, the one with the higher top score (and therefore a lower bottom socre) won the gold. What were the members of rules committee thinking about to cause such an inconsistency?

Posted by: quimper | August 19, 2008 12:12 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: By the way... | August 19, 2008 12:24 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: By the way... | August 19, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why Bela Karoyli is complaining so much about underage gymnasts and state run gymnastics programs. Didn't he make his name off a 14 year old girl winning gold who was a product of just such a program? Does he think we have short memories or are just stupid? Gimmie a break. What a hipocrite.

Posted by: Nadia Comaneci | August 19, 2008 12:29 AM | Report abuse

What sucks the most about this is that on beam, there is no way I'll be happy. I REALLY wanted Nastia to win at least one individual gold, but my heart will go out to Shawn Johnson if she loses, because I know how much she wants (and needs) a victory on beam. Thanks for ruining Gymnastics for me, ****ing judges.

Posted by: Google | August 19, 2008 12:35 AM | Report abuse

I've been tallying up the blogs, and people who believe Nastia deserved gold unrank the losers who don't. Tough luck.

Posted by: By the way... | August 19, 2008 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Is it just me or do we have a disagreement between us all?

Posted by: Matt | August 19, 2008 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Nastia vs He, Googlefight!

Posted by: Rawr | August 19, 2008 12:41 AM | Report abuse

The judges are being paid off. There's no other explanation.

Posted by: Tristin | August 19, 2008 12:42 AM | Report abuse

I don't know about Judges being bias. They are expert and they see things we don't see - more than just landings. If you are just talking about how it looked (from our eyes), should the second Chinese girl - who got a bronze - get the Gold? So if we let the experts judge, then He and Nastia did get the same score. If we believe the amateurs know better than the experts, then shouldn't we hear a lot of complains about the second Chinese girl not getting the gold?

So, I totally disagree with the bias talk. But about the tie-breaker, I totally agree. He and Nastia should be awarded gold with the second Chinese girl getting bronze (with no silver for the event).

Oh, by the way, if you talk about bias, isn't NBC more bias?

Posted by: Josh O. | August 19, 2008 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Think of it in baseball terms. How would you feel if your team lost because an umpire called a player out on strikes when the third 'strike' is several feet outside. The player out on strikes is Nastia Liukin. The pitcher is He Kexin.

Think of it in basketball terms. How would you feel if a critical play in the game was, in actuality, a foul that the refs didn't see.

Think of it in football terms.
How would you feel if the refs didn't spot that a team had more than the allotted people on the field at one time and it took that many people to tackle your quarterback.

Think of it in golf terms. How would you feel if your guy's opponent was moving his golf ball several inches closer to the green and no one noticed?

Think of it in boxing terms. How would you feel if the ref wasn't paying attention and your opponent got up AFTER 10 seconds, when, in fact, he was KOed after 9.75 seconds.

Similarities: Unfair. That's what happened to Nastia. It's inexcusable. Marta cannot file a protest because the tiebreaking rules had been set, but, since Nastia's routine was actually better than He's, Marta CAN protest how in hell Nastia lost as many points as He when He had two more-than-minor errors, while all Nastia did was separate her legs for a split-second and didn't hold the hand-stand for the maximum time. Unfairness? Anyone who doesn't believe so is a moron. That's right, I'm talking about you, Duane.

Posted by: By the way... | August 19, 2008 12:56 AM | Report abuse

What is sad is that the Chinese are being fair and square in every other sport they have entered in. If they consider themselves such hot ****, then they shouldn't have to cheat to win medals in women's Gymnastics.


Posted by: Anonymous/John/Bruce | August 19, 2008 12:59 AM | Report abuse

sour grapes everywhere

Posted by: Anonymous | August 19, 2008 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Love sports and love the spirit of the olympics with the beauty and elegance of those on the floor performing gymnastics. Bella Korolyi's comments however are short-sighted and can't be taken seriously at times much irritating and biased to good human nature.

Posted by: anonymous | August 19, 2008 1:20 AM | Report abuse

The people who disagree with me, Google, Tristin, Brett, nyc, and T Mac are all foreigners who hate America.


By the way... out for the night.

Posted by: By the way... | August 19, 2008 1:30 AM | Report abuse

By the way... those are probably the worst sports analogies i have ever seen. I understand you are a supporter- and good on ya. Seriously though, if you are going to supplement an argument with examples, make them relevant or transferable. Where does the 2nd Chinese athlete fit in your examples... or the fact she did a clean routine get totally wiped from record because her difficulty rating was a little bit lower. Take a look at some unbiased media coverage of the event - something besides NBC and keep an open mind...not just a fan's perspective.

Posted by: T | August 19, 2008 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Just how it look from my eyes (who's not an expert on gymnastics).

Gold - Yan
Silver - Nastia
Bronze - He

So whether you let the Judges (and the tie-breaker) judge or let the viewers judge, no difference.

So if the people who think the judges are bias also argue for Yan, I think you really make a good point. But if just for Nastia, I guess you are much more bias than the judges you are talking about.

Posted by: Kobe Fan | August 19, 2008 1:38 AM | Report abuse

"Where does the 2nd Chinese athlete fit in your examples... or the fact she did a clean routine get totally wiped from record because her difficulty rating was a little bit lower"

I think her difficulty rating was also 7.7.

Posted by: CIT | August 19, 2008 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I am a 'foreigner.' However, I have no hatred for fact, I go there on a monthly basis and enjoy it immensely. I do love your Bush-type stance that if I am not with you, I am against you. I simply am suggesting, that as an outside voice, with no reason to cheer more for Chinese or American, I think the NBC coverage is unreliable for coming to one's OWN conclusion. Liukin deserved a gold/silver, however there is a difference between opinion and argument. I do accept your opinion. I also believe you would not win many debates with any of the arguments you are providing!haha.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 19, 2008 1:53 AM | Report abuse

I don't see what's wrong with the announcers giving us their opinion that a judged decision was wrong. I watch football games all the time where you hear the announcer make a call, show the replay, it's obvious to everyone including the fans, but the ref still calls it differently. There's nothing wrong with the announcer saying, "that was a bad call." In gymnastics it's hard for fans because we see a routine that looks better, seems to have fewer mistakes, but is still scored lower or the same as another gymnast's routine. I think it would be helpful if the judges documented where, why, and how much a deduction was.

As far as the rules go, they were set and no one is contsting that but my problem is how did Nastia get more deductions than He?

And the reason you aren't hearing any controversy over the men's vault is because they did two vaults, tied on the highest, so they counted the second one. That makes sense because there were two and one gymnast obviously did collectively better, but on the women's there was only one routine that was tied, not a second one to get a collective score. It has been an argument for some time now that the gymnastics rules need to be revamped.

Lastly, (I promise I'm done!) other sports do allow tie medals, just not gymnastics. However, they don't do it for the other competitions, just the Olympics, if I'm not mistaken.

Posted by: rebecca | August 19, 2008 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Announcers from football are completely different. American announcers for the Olympics are commenting on American results vs the rest of the world. Football is commented on by men who travel America and do it as a job with only American teams. Please tell me you see the bias in a commentator commenting on their own country whether it being subtle/unintentional/or with no ill will. I don't think they did anything wrong-but alternative broadcasts should be viewed before people become 'experts' on gymnastics now because they heard that John Tesh sounding dude. Seriously, he sounds like Tesh!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 19, 2008 2:00 AM | Report abuse

Bella Korolyi and the NBC "experts" have provided at least one reason for each event so far in which the US did not earned the gold medal..or any medal at all.
1) Team competition - the "half-people" from on the Chinese team is too young
2) Vault - Judges are biased on giving Cheng a higher score than Sacramone. Appropriate deductions were taken, but "it's just wrong"
3) Floor - Johnson got a bad draw and had to go first, which makes it harder to win the Gold.
4) Uneven Bar - the pre-determined tiebreaker is to blame. In fact, it shouldn't be needed since Liukin was so much better.

Can't wait till what excuse they'll come up with if the US doesn't win the beam tomorrow. Thank you Karolyi and NBC for providing American children the lesson that anytime you don't win, it's not your fault and something/someone must have screwed you over. When facing tough competition, perhaps we should be focused on how we can improve and learn from mistakes.
I congratulate the athletes on their outstanding accomplishments and showing class throughout the competition regardless of the result. The Karolyi's and NBC should stop sounding like a bunch of sore losers.

Posted by: PL | August 19, 2008 2:02 AM | Report abuse

The announcers are Olympic gold medalist Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel, so I think they have some credibility here. They are not simply broadcasters with no knowledge of the sport. And Elfi is Canadian, so forget the American bias argument.

Posted by: rebecca | August 19, 2008 2:08 AM | Report abuse

Don't know the rules; don't understand the judging; Do know that I witnessed over the past week incredible strength, balance and conditioning. Wow!

The competitors do know the rules; do understand the judging; have dealt with perceived nation-based preferential or biased judging in international competitions. It is what it is. I'll complain about refs/umps in sports I do know.

Maybe we need an Olympic judging competition?

Posted by: Locke | August 19, 2008 2:10 AM | Report abuse

It seems to me that if one particular action, such as a step on a landing, gets a certain amount of deduction, then all the judges should give the gymnast an almost identical score. We saw just two (I think) small mistakes from Nastia: legs came apart, and not straight on a handstand. I don't know how many points off they are, but if it .3 or .1 or whatever for each mistake, then how did one judge give as low as 8.8 and another 9.3? That's .7 difference...the worst deductions I've heard about were about .5, and I think I heard something about .8 when they were falling on dismounts and stepping out with both feet on a landing. So why the big discrepancy? That's why we argue about scores, because as I fan, I can't fathom that amount of difference on the same routine.

Posted by: rebecca | August 19, 2008 2:18 AM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter it is the result of the tie-breaking rule or not - He Kexin won the game regardless! If you would do a simple Math of taking the average of all 6 scores from all 6 judges from 6 different countries for each Olympiad, He Kexin has an average score of 9.05 while Nastia Liukin has an average score of 9.03. Thus, He Kexin is the winner!
Some US media can attempt to accuse how unfair this tie-breaking rule is; yet the result would still be the same if you would use a simple Math to calculate the average of all scores.
There's absolutely no tie in this Gold - only ONE WINNER.

Posted by: Christine | August 19, 2008 2:40 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the women's vault competition, Alicia should never have entered the final with such low difficulties and expected to get a medal. She did get the highest overall execution scores (9.45 and 9.50) from the judges. No one else had higher score than Alicia except Cheng's first vault (9.55, didn't the NBC announcer called it 'almost flawless'? )

Posted by: Ray | August 19, 2008 2:51 AM | Report abuse

The "logical" conclusion to many people seems to be whenever there is a tie involving an American athlete, the gold medal should go to the American. Perhaps they want to go a step further and only allow American judges, chosen by "The Washington Post" and "Fox" news.

Posted by: Independent | August 19, 2008 3:06 AM | Report abuse

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

Posted by: LaDen | August 19, 2008 3:06 AM | Report abuse

GEE. this sounds like a CRY-BABY forum...

why does the united states (albeit in the form of the washingtonpost) need a forum to UNDERSTAND an olympic decision?

the decision of the gold was clear.. it wasn't rocket science... in case of a tie, it takes the scores, drops the high and low, and then if still tied, drops the NEXT low score... and then.. they arrived at a winner.



my god.. no wonder our country is as f*cked up as it is.

hey NASTIA? you are beautiful, graceful, and worthy of everything you have won..

but your dad?

LOSE HIM. he is bring you down.. he is too demanding. he is making you look BAD.

Posted by: BOB | August 19, 2008 3:08 AM | Report abuse

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all



Posted by: raze911 | August 19, 2008 3:10 AM | Report abuse

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all



Posted by: raze911 | August 19, 2008 3:10 AM


Can you tell me what does it mean??

Posted by: GODisME | August 19, 2008 3:14 AM | Report abuse

Good discussion. My personal thoughts is that the 3rd place Chinese girl's routine was the best, but I'm not a judge.

It certainly IS sour grapes to gripe about a contest rule that's been in place for over a decade and that you've never griped about before, or earlier in the men's vault when a non-American was "screwed" because of it.

I'm in agreement with the poor quality of the NBC broadcast team. And the insightful comment about how judges favor certain known athletes just because they're "supposed" to win. Some of the routines of the lesser known gymnasts in the games have been spectacular but the commentators and judges have both poo-pooed them because they weren't supposed to be challenging for a medal.

But the most aggravating NBC commentator thing is their constant "does she look 16"? snide comment/opinion on the issue of the Chinese girls' age(s). First it's a logical fallacy, looks does not equal age. Second it's not consistent, there are plenty of non-Chinese gymnasts who don't look 16, plenty of American girls too now and in the past. Third, it's just a spineless attempt to push a stance without owning up to it.

The final criticism I have of the NBC gymnastics coverage is that they hardly ever show the actual scores. Plenty of other sports have a constant scoreboard on-screen at all times, but for gymnastics they make you guess and forget when they could easily just put a "top 5" leaderboard at the top of the screen. I like information, not manufactured suspense.

Posted by: Dave | August 19, 2008 3:17 AM | Report abuse

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all



Posted by: raze911 | August 19, 2008 3:10 AM


Can you tell me what does it mean??

Posted by: GODisME | August 19, 2008 3:14 AM

I think it means ,WoW

OH,My God

Posted by: LKisOne | August 19, 2008 3:22 AM | Report abuse

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all



Posted by: raze911 | August 19, 2008 3:10 AM


Can you tell me what does it mean??

Posted by: GODisME | August 19, 2008 3:14 AM

I think it means ,WoW

OH,My God

Posted by: LKisOne | August 19, 2008 3:22 AM


ok,but I don't think it's a problem whith this game

Posted by: John | August 19, 2008 3:25 AM | Report abuse

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all



Posted by: raze911 | August 19, 2008 3:10 AM


Can you tell me what does it mean??

Posted by: GODisME | August 19, 2008 3:14 AM

Maybe I can understande,but ,but ,but .....

en...I can say nothing ....

Posted by: Anonymous | August 19, 2008 3:37 AM | Report abuse

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all

between liukin's two legs ,space of hole universe can into it all



Posted by: raze911 | August 19, 2008 3:10 AM


Can you tell me what does it mean??

Posted by: GODisME | August 19, 2008 3:14 AM

Maybe I can understande,but ,but ,but .....

en...I can say nothing ....

Posted by: crazy2006 | August 19, 2008 3:37 AM | Report abuse

We could do everything right, be prim and proper, never speak out, etc. etc. and still be "ugly Americans." Because we are Americans. People just don't like Americans. Probably jealousy over that whole "Bill of Rights" thing. But to any non-American who has ever used the term, I suggest you look in the mirror. Our society is largely based on immigration. "Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses..." Ring any bells? Almost every piece of us is a little piece of you.
As for understanding the scoring, that's not really the issue, nor is the tie-break, at least not for me. My issue is with the scoring itself. If you look at the breakdown of the scores, there's a huge discrepancy. Hopefully, after the 2008 Olympic Gymnastics Fiasco, the IOC will take the time to properly train their judges. Ha, funny joke, I know.
And, Anon...if the "judge's" spouse was also a "judge", had been a "judge" for the same amount of time, and had made just as good if not better "judgements" over all that time, then I see no reason why the "judge's" spouse's comments shouldn't be given at least some credibility.

Posted by: Madcap | August 19, 2008 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Win is win. We should respect or at least accept the process-born result in the basis of established & ageed rules in advance,otherwise nothing might be done in such an arena. Have a good time for everyone during the Games.

Posted by: Traveller | August 19, 2008 6:10 AM | Report abuse

Guys...The judges somewhere seem to be contradicting ther own judgement. With the rules for scoring / deducting being so clear and .10 making a huge difference, I've come to the following conclusion...

1) There can't be a descrepancy of .3 scores given by each for the judges for a single gymnast as the follies will be known to all and deductions can be calculated. A .01 or .15 difference is understandable. But .30 is horrendous.

2) If its about the style the marks are awarded, then it becomes purely an individuals opinion. Which is not what anybody want.

3) Lastly and most importantly...The yardstick to ones performance is the score. When the judges have themselves placed both Luikin and He on the same level how can one better the other?!?

Inspite of having a precise and detailed scoring system, the marks awarded are same. If they declare one of them a winner They are contradicting their own judgement. Judges are you listening???

On the contrary, I agree with the argument that the gold has to go for the best(thats 1 and not 2). But we also need to understand that a gymnast is given only 1 chance and she has to put her best foot forward. Unlike pole vault, long jump etc the gymnasts have just one chance. And in one such one and only chance game their scores are equal...
So the only fair thing would be to change the rules of the game. Making it the best of three o something. The tie breaker could then be consistency...What say!!!

So the loop hole is in the rules why deprive the gymnast of her medal.

Come on...They deserve it. Give them both GOLD!!!

Posted by: Akshatha | August 19, 2008 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Have any of you seen the boxing? Talk about a bunch of incompetent judges!

Posted by: m20832 | August 19, 2008 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Geez you Americans are a bunch of sooks, stop crying because ronald mcdonald didn't win eveything and appreciate the talent and effort put in by all the competitors. Its not who wins its the joy of competeing.

Posted by: madmatt | August 19, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

What a shame that the creators of this rule did not foresee that a truly deserving gold medalist would be knocked out of first place. It has nothing to do with the country of the competitors. It has everything to do with the lack of intelligence of the people who set up this rule in the first place. They should be ashamed.

Posted by: Sharon | August 19, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

While we are talking about following the rules, why is the age-16 rule not being followed? Documentation should be presented showing definitive proof of age for He. Although she is a beautiful gymnast, she is not age 16.

Posted by: Sharon | August 19, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

i am upset not because of the tie breaker but because there was no need for one.nastia's routine was better with less mistake's than he's.same for women's was not about just the landing.the chinese girl placed her hands in the wrong postion and her body postion was wrong in the air.all that is part of the based on all of that she was overscored.. now about the judges if you have a gymnast in the event your country can not have a judge on the you have judges who have very little exprience.lastly tim and elfie both have won olymic medals, so they do what they are saying. and they are not biased in the least!!!.p.s didnt know about men"s vault tie until now and doesn"t that just put the icing on the cake . the whole judingi /scoring system is awaful.for the love of god eget it fixed before;

Posted by: lucy | August 19, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

The Jamaican female sprinters tied for second and both received silver medals. Why should gymnastics be different? If an athlete earned the highest score (even if another athlete ties that score) then both athletes should receive the highest prize.

Posted by: Angelo | August 19, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm not an expert on gymnastics, so I won't comment on which deductions where taken...
and I really loved watching the Chinese through the whole competition, but I am upset about the tie-breaker.
I understand it, and the people who said that it was a pre-determined rule and people should not complain, but try to make it right, are correct, but still everyone has the chance to say what they think!!
So I'm just a little unsure of the system, fine if you take the highest and lowest scores they got the same score, but if you do that again, take both, Nastia would have won! but they decided to just take the low score, why? still I think the tie-breaker is not a good option, I opt for them to do their routine again, or the "sudden death", this are just suggestions for next Olympics.

Both of the athletes were great, so don't blame it on He, she was espectacular!
It's just that the tie-breaker rule needs to be improved!!

Posted by: thinksolutions | August 19, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I rewatched the 2 routines on uneven bars and there were clearly more deductions that should've been taken off for the Chinese girl. Nastia hit the landing perfectly and it really should not have even been a tie. However, since it was I feel the old rule should apply like it does in the world championships, both girls get a Gold medal. That rule has to change and seriously ages need to be checked and authentic. Having a 13-14 year old with a passport that says she is 16 years old is an unfair advantage over 16-20 year old legitimate gymnasts. If that's how they want to win well in my eyes they didn't since the age rule is not adhered to.

Posted by: Sue | August 19, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

He nearly missed catching the bar during one of her releases because she missed an entire rotation. Did nobody else see that? That is an enormous mistake.

Posted by: Jonathan | August 19, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

He nearly missed catching the bar during one of her releases because she missed an entire rotation. Did nobody else see that? That is an enormous mistake.

Posted by: Jonathan | August 19, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Hey I think Nastia's routine was better, too. He almost missed a full rotation on one of her releases. But I am proud of Alicia, Shawn, and Nastia. Things like this can happen in every sport, and often times it seems unfair, yet these girls demonstrate strength and composure under such extreme pressures and emotions. Tiger Woods is not the greatest because he cannot be beat. He is the greatest because of how he handles himself, how he accepts defeat, and how he shows up even stronger the next time. Congratulations girls! Role models like you should all win gold medals.

Posted by: Jonathan | August 19, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Maybe people should stop complaining about it because it's there since Atlanta. What were you doing before the games? Let's try to change this tie-breaker thing in London, that's what people really need to do (if you think it's unfair).

Posted by: Josh. O. | August 19, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

The judges were not biased. The Australian judge that everyone claims to have f***ed Nastia's score actually scored Yang Yilin (who, by the way, was MUCH cleaner with the SAME difficulty level)lower than Liukin.

If we're basing medals on deservedness, then YYL deserved to win and Nastia would have wound up with a 2nd place finish anyway. Even Nastia, great sport that she is, admitted that YYL was completely underscored.

If you think the judging's poor, WHY are you using the SAME judging to determine the gold medalist? Shouldn't you discount their opinions entirely? From a completely objective third party viewer perspective, YYL deserved gold.

Either way: NOT NASTIA. The end.

Posted by: Third | August 19, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I agree that using a tiebreaker is a lousy idea. Liukin and He got the same score and both should have received gold medals.

Nonetheless, the obscurity and capriciousness of the tiebreaking scheme is being vastly overrated. It's really pretty simple: if the middle four execution scores don't settle the issue, throw out the worst of those four scores. That's all there is to it.

He: 9.1, 9.1, 9.0 (8.9 thrown out)
Liukin: 9.1, 9.0, 9.0 (9.0 thrown out)

The blog article muddies the discussion by switching back and forth between scores and deductions, which is unnecessary. All execution scores were based on a 10.0 scale, so the deduction is (10.0 - score) in all cases.

Posted by: Carl T. | August 19, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I agree completely that Yang should have won with Nastia in second. A lot of you dont seem to realize that deductions dont solely come from wobbles and steps on the landing. They come from other things like spaces between the legs and bent arms all of which are completely imperceptible to the casual viewer. So before you start making baseless claims I implore you to actually understand the scoring .

Posted by: Matt | August 19, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Nastia Liukin deserved her silver. He Kexin deserved a bronze. YYL ACTUALLY DESERVED THE GOLD. Her routine was much cleaner and had an identical difficulty level. In between He Kexin’s kips and Nastia’s cowboyed saltos, YYL was near perfect in executing her routine. However, she was dismissed as an afterthought, pegged as some sort of demi-Nastia. Also, FYI, the Australian judge who people claim stole the gold from Nastia with her “bias” actually scored YYL LOWER than Nastia. Based off of this, I can say that the Aussie judge is making calls according to her own tastes (since YYL’s and Nastia’s routines were near identical) just like EVERY JUDGE OUT THERE. In this case, the one she really jipped was YYL.

Posted by: JRRM | August 19, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

A follow-up after reading through the previous comments --

(1) The first tiebreaker ignores the difficulty score and looks only at the (middle four) execution scores. Since He and Liukin had the same difficulty score, this obviously wasn't going to resolve the tie in their case, but it's a reasonable idea in general.

(2) The tiebreaker rules were in place before the competition and all gymnasts agreed to them as a condition of entering the Olympics. It would be a travesty to change these rules retroactively -- though one can hope they'll be revamped for 2012....

Posted by: Carl T. | August 19, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Analysis #1 of errors in the mathematics and statistics based comments read here:

Statement: "So the total deductions by the 3 least-deducting judges were 2.8 for He and 2.9 for Liukin. This seems like an awfully arbitrary tie-breaker. Why don't they ignore the judge with the least deductions as well as the one with the most?"

Analysis: He had the lowest average deduction if all 6 B-judge scores were used and would have won on that basis. But the FIG rules used in the Olympics and all other competitions seek to avoid the effect of extremes on the average and thus ignore the highest deductions and lowest deduction to get to a set of four "counting" deductions which resulted in the tie score. So the method of eliminating extreme scores is not arbitrary.

What is arbitrary is the focus on the elimination of only one extreme (the highest deduction) in tie breaker procedure. If the FIG had chosen to focus on eliminating the other extreme (the lowest deduction) a tie would have occured at the three judge average and a victory for Liukin at the two judge average.

The decision to focus on only one extreme the highest deduction is an unexplained choice in their regulations. It implies that a judge would be more likely to error by applying too many deductions rather than too few.

What would not have been less arbitrary and more consistent is a tie breaking procedure that continues to ignore BOTH high and low extremes at each step. This would have resulted in a win by He with a average deduction of .95 to 1.0 for Liukin.

Posted by: Dr. Stats | August 19, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

There should not be two golds. If you are buying a car and narrow it down to two choices, you don't buy both. You look to smaller differences to make a decision on which is better. Same thing applies here. No matter how minor, one girl did better in the judges eyes. There can be only one best athlete by definition of the word best.

No one is pointing out that if you look at all six scores from the judges before any are thrown out, the chinese girl scored higher than the american girl. Therefore it was only by a RULE that the american girl was tied in the first place. She actually scored lower on the judges cards when all are added up. To me this should be the obvious tie-breaker since it shows the judges collectively scored the chinese girl higher. But instead a different rule also puts the chinese girl first. Rules are rules. Athletes are judged by the same rules that are in place before the event. Accept it. The only bias and poor sportsmanship is coming from the americans looking to every excuse to explain a loss rather than just admitting the other athlete was just better. For example:

1) The american girl was NOT gracious as many are saying here. Both she and her mother pointed out that they got low scores from the australian judge and went on to strongly suggest that the australian judge was biased. This is why people are repeating this nonsense on this and other forums. The athlete herself put the idea in people's heads. For the record the polish judge had a one tenth difference from the australian's.

2) The american commentators and gymnast experts both said that the american girl should have won the tie because she had a better gymnast's look. So apparently a tie should be broken by who is better looking. They also suggested bias for the chinese and repeatedly said that the american's routine was more difficult even though both routines had the same difficulty.

3) An american girl held the top score in the indiviual floor exercise with one athlete yet to perform, a romanian girl. This romanian girl had done the same routine in the team competition and had received a score comparable to the american girl's current score. After she finished a near perfect routine, the american commnetators said that she stuck every landing, did her job perfectly, and had no obvious errors. But after her winning score was annouced they both said that the romanian girl won because she had the advantage of going last causing the judges to score her higher than they should have, and that the american should have won. The first thing Bob Costas said about it was "I guess there is an advantage to going last."

4) In the last olympics, Paul Hamm of the US won gold in the men's all around competition. However, it was later determined that he actually lost because a judging error accidently lowered a korean athlete's starting diffuculty score. This was not a deduction based on a judge's opinion, but a mistake in violation of the olympic rules for judging gymnastics. It was also a fact not disputed by anyone including the americans. There was an outcry over whether the american's should give up the gold since they didn't truly earn it. The american's strongly refused BECAUSE A RULE said the korean's didn't protest in time. The american's were right because that was the rule before competition started. However, this shows that american's will run to the rules to get a gold they didn't earn, but declare the rules to be bogus when the rules say they lost.

Posted by: Rob | August 19, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Analysis #1 of errors in the mathematics and statistics based comments read here:

Statement: "I am SO UPSET at the ripoff by the Australian 'judge'. . . her unfair and biased scoring against Nastia, which cost her a gold medal. The evidence that Helen has some kind of bias against Nastia is obvious when you look at Helen's scoring compared to ALL of the other judges."

Analysis: It is true that the Austrailian judge had the largest absolute difference in deductions for the two tied gymnasts (0.3), but since the extreme deductions were excluded in determing the original set of "counting" deductions, the effect of this one judge on the final results were much less than was claimed here and in many other media analysis. In the final set of scores used, the Australian and New Zealand judge both gave Liukin a 1.0 deduction so it is not accurate to conclude that either was more influential on the results than the other. The Australian score was not included in the tie-breaker calculation for He.

In fact, it might be argued that since these two judges agreed in the final calculation used, they could be seen as the less likely to have scored incorrectly.

Posted by: Dr. Stats | August 19, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

That's a game,all the player are com.

Posted by: Keroro | August 19, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Analysis #3 of errors in the mathematics and statistics based comments read here: (yes, careful readers might point out that Dr. Stat incorrectly labeled #2 :) )

Statement:"By the way I just looked up this morning's men's vault results and believe it or not, there was a tie at 16.537 points each with one vaulter getting gold and the other silver going through the same tie-breaker formula as here with the uneven bars."

Analysis: The FIG tie breaking procedure in the vault is slightly different than all other apparatus since there are two attempts. The two in question were tied based on the original criteria which is the average of the two vaults. The first tie breaker in vault is to compare the highest score of the two vaults and Blanik had a 16.6 to Bouhail's 16.575.

Following the elimination of the lowest valut in the first tie breaker method, the remaining tie-breakers are the same as in the other apparatus applied to both vault attempts (average of lowest four deductions, three deductions, ...).

Posted by: Dr. Stat | August 19, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Analysis #4 of errors in the mathematics and statistics based comments read here:

Statement:"In the same performance, you can see a 8.0 up to 9.5... how can "experts" be that far apart if they all operate under the same assumptions of deductions?"

Analysis: The FIG rules require that deductions of the four middle "counting" B-judge deductions be reviewed by Apparatus Supervisor if the differences between deductions exceed predetermined thresholds based on score (10.0 - average deductions)
0.10 between 10.0 – 9.6
0.20 between 9.6 – 9.4
0.30 between 9.4 – 9.0
0.40 between 9.0 – 8.5
0.50 between 8.5 − 8.0
0.60 between 8.0 – 7.5
0.70 less than 7.50
The review process can but does not require adjustment in such cases but may result in judges being required to rescore until the range is within bounds.

The range appropriate for the 9.025 average B-Judge scores by He and Liukin would be 0.3. The actual range for (1.1-0.9 = 0.2 for He and (1.0-0.9=0.1 for Liukin) which is in acceptable bounds.

Posted by: Dr. Stat | August 19, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Analysis #5 of errors in the mathematics and statistics based comments read here:

Statement:"Counting deductions as a tiebreaker also is a kind of double jeopardy, since the deductions were used once to determine the score which resulted in the tie. Using them a second time as a tiebreaker makes no sense."

Analysis: The first tie-breaker is in this case is to actually ignore the maximum content (difficulty) assessement made by A-judges and focus on the differences in the execution and artistry scores made by the six B-judges. Theoretically, there could have been a tie in total score between two competitors with different difficulty scores. If that happened, the first tie-breaking rule would base the decision on the middle four execution and artistry scores which must be different.

With tied difficulty scores as was the case here, the first tie-breaker of the middle four B-judge deduction scores does not resolve the tie.

But more to the point, the tie-breaking method here is not using the same scores twice as much as it is NOT-using the same score twice. It is eliminating scores most different from the average under the assumption that those high and low scores are most likely to be incorrect.

What would be an interesting alternative is to exclude the "artistic" or the "execution" portion of the B-judge deductions similar to the way the A-judge difficulty scores were removed in the first tie-breaker. I have not seen these broken out for this case but some might argue that artistic deductions is the more subjective of the two and could be eliminated as a tie-breaker method.

Posted by: Dr. Stat | August 19, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Analysis #6 of errors in the mathematics and statistics based comments read here:

Statement:"It's unfair. They kept the three lowest scores to determine the winner. If you look closely, if they had thrown out all but the two middle scores, Nastia wins. Nastia got her results through more of an extreme (the highest is higher; the lowest is lower). Nevertheless, she got those results, just like He."

Analysis: Neither statement is factually accurate according to the results posted above by the Washington Post and the FIG rule.

Based on lowest deduction, the 1st and 6th lowest are excluded in the original set of "counting" scores. The second tie breaker includes the lowest three of the remaining set which would be the avereage of scores 3, 4 and 5 (not 4, 5 and 6).

The two middle deductions (3 and 4) which are the same in both original "counting" and all other tie breakers employed would still favor He (0.9,1.0) over Liukin (1.0,1.0).

Posted by: Dr. Stat | August 19, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Analysis #7 of errors in the mathematics and statistics based comments read here:

Statement: "Isn't the first tiebreak really the same as the original scores? How would that determine the winner, since
(score) + (deductions) = 10 always?

As I see it, they remove the next lowest score from the original scores."

Analysis: The first tiebreak comes into play only if the A-judge difficulty scores are not the same. It is true that the score + deductions adds to 10 (so, despite what you hear or read, the "perfect 10" is still around, just only in the B-judge scores.)

Posted by: Dr. Stat | August 19, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I've been pointing out problems with other points here so to be fair, I'll propose my own analysis so you can pick it (and probably me) apart. What if we broke the ties based on analysis of the performance of the judges?!

Here's how it might work.

1. Rank the performance of the judges based on the sum of the absolute difference between their deductions and the median deduction for the other competitive gymnasts (don't count those that have major faults and are difficult to score). The ranking for last night would have been BRA(0.25)-NZ(0.55)-BUL(0.65)-AUS(0.65)-RSA(0.75)-POL(1.15).

2. If after the original high and low score have been excluded and four judges scores remain tied (as was the case here), exclude the scores of the WORST PERFORMING JUDGE in the remaining set of four for each gymnast. In this case, the scores of NZ, RSA and BUL would have counted for He for an average of 9.00. And the scores of NZ, BRA, and BUL would have counted for Liukin for an average of 9.03.

Some might argue that it is odd to have different judges in the two sets of scores which might make sense. It does happen in the current tie-breaker - only the New Zealand judges score was included for both He and Liukin in the final tie-breaker average used!!

So if you decided to choose only those remaining judges that remain for both gymnasts(which would be NZ and BUL), the scores would be 9.05 for He and 9.0 for Liukin.

Why did I spend so much time on this? I teach information systems in a business school and have always been very interested in the math/stats of methods used to calculate performance measures and the resulting consequences and people's reactions to the "numbers. This is a great example with some simple math where emotion overwhelms logic and people rush to blame the "computer" without taking the time to try and understand the rationale behind the approach that was used. The whining of "complicated, confusing, convoluted, computer" is very telling about the alarming tendancy of people to complain and debate as opposed to explain and understand - in sports, politics, business, grades and anywhere numbers are used to assess performance.

I don't know about your part of the country, but on my TV, the first commercial following all of the nonsense and non-quantitative analysis was the one that reminded us where the US ranks in educational performance compared to other countries. Pity we can't be as concerned about that ranking.

Posted by: Dr. Stat | August 19, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

It is unfortunate that most comments here have no substance or basis and are just as "subjective" as the people you are accusing. It is also unfortunate that it seems like the IOC didn't hire a mathematician to find a fair method to resolve a tie. However, I do believe we are lucky that the end result is correct. The method that should have been used is to continually take out the high and low scores until the tie is broken. The theory behind this is to find the most accurate median value of the data set. As Dr. Stat has previous mentioned, the outer values generally have more error. By eliminating just the lowest score is silly. The rule could have been eliminating the highest score and Nastia would have one. Clearly, this is just like flipping a coin.

The whole idea behind the tie-breaker is to use existing information to avoid the need of re-doing the routine. Since the average turned out to be the same, you have to use other mathematical techniques that are fair. In this case, you need to find the median because the median allows you to look at which judge favored which gymnast on an individual scoring basis.

The FINAL RESULT is CORRECT, the method is not and should be reviewed. Its funny, apparently I need to check into a mental institution for providing an answer to "If two people tie for first, how can one person be better?"

Please provide comments.....

Posted by: Middle School Math | August 19, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

To Middle School Math: You're right that there's no mathematical justification for dropping the lowest of the middle four scores when breaking a tie. As it happens, however, whether you drop the highest, lowest, or both, Liukin still doesn't win on this criterion:

Lowest removed (actual method):
He: 9.1, 9.1, 9.0 (8.9 thrown out)
Liukin: 9.1, 9.0, 9.0 (9.0 thrown out)
=> He wins

Highest removed:
He: (9.1 thrown out), 9.1, 9.0, 8.9
Liukin: (9.1 thrown out), 9.0, 9.0, 9.0
=> Tie; find another method

Both highest and lowest removed:
He keeps 9.1 and 9.0
Liukin keeps 9.0 and 9.0
=> He wins

I imagine they didn't go with "Throw out high AND low" because then they would be using the scores of only two judges to break the tie. That feels pretty shaky.

It could be that there's an empirical reason for tossing the low score instead of the high. Perhaps they've found that "wrong" scores (as judged by pros, not casual observers) tend to err on the low side. We'll probably never know.

Posted by: Carl T. | August 19, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

The female Chinese gymnasts are stupid cheaters and do not deserve those medals. Even without the fact that many of them shouldn't be there because of their age, they have been bribing the judges since day one.

In the team competition, if you take away the penalties (1.9) for the Americans, the Chinese still win. Without those mistakes, both teams are equal. Hmm... coincidence. In the beginning, yes. But with every good case comes more evidence...

In the all-around, Shawn Johnson deserved higher on the uneven bars and the beam, and Nastia deserved higher on the vault uneven bars. Yang Yilin, however, bobbled many times on the beam and still got a high score. Without this cheating, the Russian gymnast should've taken the bronze.

In the vaulting exercise, answer one question: HOW IN HELL CAN A PERSON WIN A BRONZE AFTER THEY HAVE LANDED ON THEIR KNEES *wish for larger font*.

In the uneven bars, how can He make more mistakes than Nastia but end up with the same score?

Coincidence anymore? Nope.

I haven't seen the beam exercise yet, and hopefully China will play fair and square.

Look at Yang Yilin's face at the all-around: anger. She's mad that the judges failed in helping to bribe her.

Look at He's face at the uneven bars: relief. The bribery helped her win.

I wish I could see Cheng Fei's face after the vault.

As for the men, the complaint is there, but minor. How come Jonathan Horton and Justin Spring executed perfect routines with perfect landings but scored low?

Posted by: Screw the Chinese female gymnasts | August 19, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

online forums = retarded olympics

Posted by: retarded | August 19, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I just saw the beam final and I think Nastia was rattled after yesterday and that's why she missed her landings. Congrats to Shawn nonetheless.

Someone point out how He and Nastia had the same score when He might've (and should've) lost .5 (I can't remember where but I remember the commentators discussing it) and .3 for the landing, plus the other minor flaws that judges see, so that is another .2 at least.

Score: 16.700.

Nastia missed the handstand, so that's .3, plus the leg separation, which is .1, plus other minor flaws for .2. SHE HAD A STUCK LANDING!

Score: 17.100.

Undeniable. I'm not saying that He was overscored. I'm saying Nastia was underscored.

And to Duane, let's hear your response to my comments about you in the recent past.

P.S. Nastia, paint that silver gold, because that's what it's supposed to be.

Posted by: By the way... | August 19, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse




YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH (love that movie)

Posted by: WAKE UP, PEOPLE! | August 19, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

If the tie-break was based on the standard deviation of the execution scores after the highest and lowest are dropped, Liukin had a smaller standard deviation of scores (.05)compared with .095 for HE. This leads me to believe that Liukin's scores were actually more consistent across judges and therefore probably more reliably accurate. I would have used that, but oh well.

Posted by: Cameron | August 19, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Liukin doesn't even deserve the silver. She got off with legs separated and kicking which begs for deductions.

Posted by: YP | August 20, 2008 2:09 AM | Report abuse

To the person who said Shawn Johnson is likely getting lower scores because she is built like a "linebacker" - spot on! This is a sport of aesthetics and USA has a Soviet-era weightlifter up there competing? C'mon now. If the Chinese tweens are able to do the same physical routines with more grace because they're not bulging with muscles, then they deserve higher scores. And I heard one of the Chinese girl's passports actually had her birthday as January 1st! Haha, that's some balls China, brass balls!

Posted by: random | August 20, 2008 3:04 AM | Report abuse

Shame on you Americans! Sending hate message to the judges only proves you are sour losers.

Aussie gymnastics judge getting hate messages from Americans


Wednesday, August 20th 2008, 11:22 AM

The Australian gymnastics judge who doomed Nastia Liukin to second place in the uneven bars competition is receiving hate messages from Americans at her email address.

A Gymnastics Australia official blamed Valeri Liukin, Nastia's father, for an avalanche of harassing email messages sent to judge Helen Colaguiri.

"He's been totally irresponsible in targeting one judge and opening her up to this type of abuse, even though I know that wasn't his intention," Jane Allen, CEO of Gymnastics Australia told The Age of Melbourne. "He was just angry and disappointed.

"There's been some emails saying, 'You're an idiot, you're blind, you don't know what you're doing,' and there's been others that are pretty revolting. We've taken action to try and prevent that, and I think it will die down, but Helen's been dealing with it fine, she's not even opening them up."

Colaguiri has turned down the chance to fire back at Valeri Liukin on an Aussie tabloid TV show.

Posted by: Heather | August 20, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Write nasty emails to the Aus judge?? This is what losers do!! What about the other two East European judges who favored Liukin over others, are they supposed to get nasty emails from other countries?? Americans, return the 04 Olympics Gold medal from Hamm first! You guys have always benefited from unfair judges for centuries and now you start playing crying babies! Can't bear it any more.

Posted by: nancy | August 20, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

The one step after He's dismount is only .1 deduction. Liukin's legs where wide apart which makes it much easier to land, and that should substantially lower her execution score. The commentator was just too biased to mention that. He kept saying Liukin's mistakes were "less visible". But we all saw the mistakes, how can the judges not!

Posted by: Debbie | August 20, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

It is her luck getting the silver.
1) when she flipped her body in the air ,or she tried to land, the width between her leg is wider than her shoulder, which is 0.3 off generally.
2) she also twisted her leg a lot on the beam.

Landing there doesn't mean gold at all.

Posted by: common Sense | August 20, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. Olympics Team deserves a gold medal for complaining and protesting.

Posted by: Cherie | August 20, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Obviously many people here are misled by Nastia's sticky landing in this competition, which does not mean her performance deserves more score points than the Chinese girl's. Nastia's routines in almost all the competitions including all-around were over-scored ridiculously. There are too many flaws in her technique including leg-twisting, knee-slitting and so on. However, the judges never gave her any deductions. Therefore, nothing to complain for her.

Posted by: Sophie | August 20, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Good news to the rest of world.

Posted by: WOW, Americans complain | August 20, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse


P.S. By the way... is my new best friend.

Posted by: WAKE UP, PEOPLE! | August 20, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

If I my add to WAKE UP, PEOPLE. Some idiot further up in the forum stated that Nastia is at a disadvantage because her father is her coach

... (double take) ...

Read my new best friend's comment above on the extra work that parents will do to help their kids and cook up a new answer.

Oh, to YP, saying that Nastia actually deserved a bronze, you're as bad as Duane because she deserved the gold.

Posted by: By the way... | August 20, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Helen Colaguiri can shove that opinion straight up her ugly, fat ass! I hope God whacks her off this Earth for what she did.

Posted by: WTF | August 20, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Judging from the vitriol and venom, I find it incredible that Australians even consider Americans as friends, sending their best to die in your fruitless wars in Vietname, Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who are forever critical of the Aussie judge, wake up to the fact that the judges were all in various positions to see clearly what cannot be picked up by TV cameras and shown. Hence, viewers can hardly be in tha same position to make their own call. Secondly, none of the viewers who have written in to criticise the judging are QUALIFIED gymnastics judges. Thirdly, the tie-breaker rules were not invented by the judges and simply calling the judges, "stupid", is stupid in itself. The tie-breaker rules were asked for by the USOC of FIG to come up with and agreed with by the US (among other the Olympic Committees of other countries) after the new rules were derived. Fourthly, to single out the Aussie judge for the vile venom is prejudicial and biased on the part of her critics - because there were other judges who gave Nastia Liukin low scores as well! Finally, for the stubborn American red-necks out there who refuse to listen to the voice of reason, the tie-breaker system removes BOTH the HIGHEST and the LOWEST scores from its calculations. This means that the Australian judge's lowest score for Nastia Liukin was removed anyway in the final analysis. Yegads! No wonder the U.S. can't find friends around the world. Sore losers with an axe to grind against anyone who disagrees with you. Pathetic human beings with no sportsmanship. What a pity you cannot be like Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson who have been both gracious as champions and magnanimous towards their competitors. They, for one, have shown the true Olympic spirit of these games. It is unfortunate that non-participating armchair judges have none.

Posted by: Incredulous | August 20, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Alright, Incredulous, you have a debate, settle it with moi! FIRSTLY, the judges can pick up on little things that we cannot see from the human eye, but if they did, THE COMMENTATORS WOULD'VE TOLD US! Even though they're somewhat bias for the US, they don't hide mistakes from us. If there is a reason for why the US lost, they'll tell us (ex. Jonathan Horton didn't stick his landing). SECONDLY, WE ARE NOT QUALIFIED JUDGES, YES, BUT WE HAVE EYES AND EARS! What we saw (and heard) were two small mistakes that Nastia made, while He could've lost .5 if the judges wanted to, plus she didn't stick her landing. Question answered. THIRDLY, the Americans did agree to the tiebreaking rules, and one must follow the rules or you'll look stupid, BUT... THERE WOULD NOT HAVE EVEN BEEN A TIE IF NOT FOR THE STUPID AUSTRAILIAN JUDGE!





I rest my case.

By the way... out!

Posted by: By the way... | August 20, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

By the way... best friend, you missed a piece of evidence in your list.

We are allowed to have gymnasts we root for. Don't call us Americans names because we feel our athlete was cheated. If you're from France, I bet you were P-I-S-S-E-D when Lezak ran down Bernard. We all have our personal champions. Nastia one of ours, so shut the **** up about our opinions.

Posted by: WAKE UP, PEOPLE! | August 20, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Is there an argument going on around here?

Posted by: Matt | August 20, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Incredulous, I hate be a bad guy, but I think By the way... and WAKE UP, PEOPLE! are mad at you.

Posted by: Google | August 20, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company