Don’t worry, NBC-watchers, I promise not to spoil anything.

I just wanted to talk a little bit about the things I really enjoy about watching gymnastics. So I will!

Awesome beam mounts:

I love when ladies get on the beam in an interesting way. I feel like a lot of the beam mounts in this games are fairly ho hum compared to some that I’ve seen, but I didn’t get to see everyone, and hopefully the beam event final will have some more interesting tricks. Here’s a video of what I mean by interesting mounts:

Crazy hard bars routines:

I love watching a difficult release skill. Check this out:

Fascinating Gymnastics History

Yesterday, when I was learning some more about the history of gymnastics, I learned about a former Soviet gymnast named Elena Mukhina. I hadn’t read much about her before! She was world all-around champion, and preparing for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. She did a lot of daring and dangerous skills in her routines, including a Thomas salto in her floor exercise. It’s a 1 and 3/4 flip with 1½ twists ending in a forward roll, meaning the gymnast is basically landing on their shoulders after the flip. Here’s a video of a Elena Shushunova doing the skill in 1987:

The salto is about 9 seconds in. You can see how if things didn’t go right for whatever reason, the gymnast could land on a pretty sensitive bit of head or neck, and that’s what happened to Elena Mukhina. She wound up a quadripalegic, which is bad enough, but the really crazy thing is that the details and severity of her injury were concealed for some time by the Soviet Gymnastics Federation, who kept deflecting questions and it took a while for the truth to come out. Eventually, the Thomas salto became a banned skill for women in gymnastics, though it’s still performed by men.

Anyway, I thought that was pretty fascinating.

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