This post is an op/ed piece about the conduct of athletes both in gymnastics and in figure skating. There have also been other instances of bad sportsmanship in other sports but since this is a blog about gymnastics and figure skating I’ll discuses only them here.
Most recently (and I do mean recently!) there has be a lot of controversy about the winning of Evan in the men’s figure skating on Thursday night. Plushenko has been complaining since the results came out that Evan did not win:
~ Plushenko (extremely late to presser): “I was positive that I won. But I suppose Evan needs a medal more than I do. . .
~ Plushenko says without quad, men’s skating is ice dancing. He even stepped on top of podium for a moment.
~ Silver medallist Plushenko said the American was “not a true champion” as he had won without performing a difficult quadruple jump, which requires great height and pace to make at least four mid-air rotations (From this article)
He has made other statements to this affect and even Russian President Putin has gotten involved saying that Plushenko’s silver is worth more than gold.
Plushenko’s attitude needs to be addressed. This attitude is NOT okay, especially at an Olympic games. Evan’s and Plushenko’s scores for transitions, spins, footwork, and musicality were tied after the free skate (though that’s not right because Evan’s program was far and away above Plushenko). Where Evan won was on his jumps oddly enough! This is because Plushenko’s jumps on Thursday were okay in the air for all but two of them but his landings on many of them? horrendous and very heavy. This is where Evan won. He skated probably the best program of his competitive life and the best one that I have ever seen him do (though for me, I prefer his 09 Worlds program but this is besides the point). This is not the first time Plushenko has lost in this fashion. He lost the 2003World Championships to who else, Timothy Geobel, who extremely funnily enough was coached by Frank Caroll :). He lost because of Tim had much better jumps than Plushenko.
Plushenko did not lose like the Olympic gold medalist that he is. He is acting like a spoiled 2 year old child and this should not be allowed by either the ISU or the IOC. Evan, of course, has been the true Olympian. He has talked about how Plushenko has done something by winning yet another Olympic medal after taking almost four years off and how he admired the man, etc. Dan Hollander has written a very excellent article on the subject. It was definitely worth the read.
This is not the first time for skating. I remember this one:
The drama starts at the 6:30 mark:
As for gymnastics, there are several instances. The major one that I can remember (before I went searching):
Svetlana Khorkina taking off her medal because she was mad they didn’t win silver:
She starts taking it off at 1:44
Here is another:
At the 1992 Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Medal Ceremony. Oksana Skaldina from the Ukraine. She recieves the bronze medal, while her teammate Alexandra Tymoshenko received the gold. Now we have Carolina Pascual. The gymnast from Spain who received the silver medal. Oksana was so upset about this because she felt she should have had the silver medal and she felt that it should have been a Ukrainan sweep. So she refuses to shake her hand. She goes and kisses her teammate and instead of going over to shake and kiss Caraolina she walks back to her spot on the podium. The worst part is that they were in Spain.
So what do you do about it? In Plushenko’s case, I frankly think he should be stripped of his medal. It’s one thing to just say that you should really have the quad to win (I don’t think that males really do, it’s not all about the jumps) but to saying that Evan isn’t the Olympic champ and that by not doing quads, the sport is ice dancing? There are many ice dancers who could dance circles around Plushenko (Virture and Moir, I”m looking at you :)). Ice dancers are just as much figure skaters as Plushenko. Not to mention both Plushenko and his coaches have talked about the old system. The old system isn’t around anymore! You competed under the new system and won, not to mention the new system has been long gone so move on. This whole controversy would have never been discussed had Plushenko won the gold.
In other case, I think that Sportsmanship needs to be addressed and say, especially at the Olympics, that this is not the spirit of competition and not in the spirit especially of the Olympics!