Podcast on The 2000 WAG Vault Debacle

I’ve been looking for new material and I found this podcast. New as of July so it’s fresh. The first episode is a rehash of Elise’s and Kelly’s statements. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/blind-landing/id1574215081?i=1000529310559

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I thought this podcast was well put together and interesting. I knew a lot about this debacle but I still learned things. I was in the arena for that competition and the announcement about why some gymnasts vaulted again at the end of the competition was unclear, I believe it mentioned an “incorrect setting”. That group vaulted again in an eerie atmosphere where no one really knew what was going on. It’s one of those times where the TV audience was better informed.

Thank you for calling attention to this podcast. It kinda got lost in all of the pre-Tokyo hype and a lot of people missed it. (Hmmm now that I’ve typed that I’ve got deja vu!)

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I thought this was a really well done podcast. It was interesting to hear about what happened from the people that were actually there, not just the NBC narrative. It’s a story that I know about from watching it happen on TV and from what we’ve heard over the years, but to get first-hand accounts from the gymnasts and coaches was very interesting.

We knew that it happened but we didn’t get many details. Olaru’s story about the vault being set wrong for PT is new to me. It’s unbelievable that no investigation or explanation has ever been done. This could be called Blind Trust because no one who thought something was wrong did anything but shut up and put up.

Seriously. The FIG’s response was basically a giant “shrug” emoji. It’s also amazing there weren’t more injuries.

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I mean, what could the investigation show?

Someone put the vault at the wrong height and person A B C etc. failed to double check it.

What more could it say?

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What new things are there to say about 1976? 1999? And yet we talk about long-retired people and competitions. So if there’s a possibility of a fresh take or some overlooked information it’s worth hearing about it. Especially since FIG had so little to say.

I thought this was well done and also a great example of what reporting to an ‘general’ audience by a non-gym die hard could be like. Granted they had time and ACCESS to put this together, but I felt like they balanced explaining things to people with no background and keeping diehard gym fans interested as well pretty well!

If 1 member of the BB D Panel was found to be judging under the influence of alcohol in the middle of 2022 Worlds QF, and - despite calls inconsistent with the gymnast’s history and with the COP itself - the FIG simply replaced the judged, carried out the competition, and allowed the gymnasts directly impacted a 2nd try, you’d wouldn’t be posting up a storm on how it impacted the entire competition, want to know who the judge was, how it happened, etc.? Please.

At the very least, an investigation would determine:

  1. WHO DID IT: If it was set at the wrong height by a janitor, don’t you think gymnasts deserve to compete in a more secure setting?
  2. WHO CHECKED: If someone failed in their duty to make sure the vault was set at the right height, don’t you think a punishment is fair - given the actual and potential risk of injury and/or death that came as a result?
  3. WHO DECIDED: Who decided what to do, and how to communicate it? Was this within their powers or not? Why wasn’t the meet paused (at the very least) and all informed at once?
  4. WHAT WAS DONE: If the rules stated, or could be interpreted to state, in the event of an apparatus not meeting the required specs, a new competition is required, don’t you think the 36 gymnasts who worked their entire life for that AA deserve to know? Wouldn’t you want to know if your Top 10 finish at an OG was according to the rules?

If it isn’t obvious, this was a total disaster. 36 gymnasts’ years of training (money, time, effort) was robbed from them by this mistake. 18 gymnasts (minimum) had their lives put at risk. At minimum, the FIG needs to have clear rules on how to avoid this and ensure safety and fairness with:

  1. Clear rules on who is responsible for ensuring each apparatus meets specs, and a contingency / someone who inspects before competition to affirm.
  2. Clear rules on how to handle this, and other, situation(s) with regards to: communication to athletes, coaches, and audience; continuity (or not) of the event; equitable measures for those impacted (re-do, reschedule, etc.).
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I guess my point is that it was 20 years ago and there’s not much that could be done about it now.

Although of course the FIG should at least now have formalised procedure for what to do the moment something like this happens again (because of course it will).

Even things like Dowell’s 2015 music mishap I feel like there wasn’t really a clear process as to what should happen. Like, Brenna quite clearly stepped off the mat. Why didn’t the Time Person stop the clock? It shouldn’t have taken Marta screaming from across the floor “GOOOO!!!” at Brenna for her to go.

Imagine if she had fallen or worse, gotten injured. Anxiety and rushing from the music mishap would have totally been blamed. And what if it caused the team the difference between 8th and 9th in Olympic prelims.

I see what you mean about reviews needing to be done. There are wider issues.