Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mary Lou vs. Mostepanova



It goes without saying that Mary Lou Retton only won her gold medal due to a boycott and was even lucky to win under those circumstances.  I'm not saying Bela is Italian, but I'm saying he knew how to wheel and deal like Carlo Fassi.  That being said, it is important for the newer fans of gymnastics (and skating fans) to realize just how diabolically cringeworthy it is to hear Al Trautwig mention Mary Lou Retton as an Olympic Champion who everyone wants to be like.  Americans suspended reality when watching the country dominate the 1984 Olympic Games (the tri-meet with Canada and China.)  It was almost as if we all went along and watched the Muppets together.  Miss Piggy is real and Mary Lou is the best gymnast on the planet...

Olga Mostepanova won the Olomouc Alternate Games in 1984 with a 'Perfect 40.'  Both Olomouc and the '84 Olympics were scored with the legitimacy of an NCAA dual meet in Stegman Colosseum or Pauley Pavilion today.  While Mostepanova's score may be dubious (along with her birth certificate, '68 or '69, she even says '70), it is important to remember that Mary Lou is the luckiest gymnast ever.  Ms. Mary Lou has made millions upon millions smiling when deep down she knows she'd have been lucky to have finished in the top five in a fully-attended Olympics.  Had the Olympics been fully attended, Olga Mostepanova pixie perfection may very well have captured the world's imagination in the fashion of Korbut and Comaneci.

When Mary Lou smiles her way to more money on television, it is important to reflect once in a while on just how well she compared to the best in the world.  Forget Szabo's tears, they were both incredibly lucky.




Mary Lou Retton's Compulsory, Optional and AA Final Routines


Olga Mostepanova

(Bar Routine from Team Finals)




Remember when gymnasts actually danced?  Code supporters---argue that one!

25 comments:

  1. Yeah I've always hated Mary Lou,not just because her Olympic title isn't legitimate. She just annoys the shit out of me in interviews and just the stuff she says.

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  2. THANK YOU. Mary Lou's gymnastics makes me die a little inside. The fact that she chooses gymnasts like Sam Peszek and Shawn to talk up and support is also dubious. But not surprising. And Natalia Ilienko was just DIVINE.

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  3. I don't hate Mary Lou personally-I met her once many years ago and she seemed nice enough. I just hate that the judges overscored her all the way to an Olympic AA gold medal she most definitely did not deserve. Szabo, even with a fall should have been well ahead of Retton just on the strength of the team compulsory.optional rounds. And the Chinese were raped all through the competition with the possible exception of Ma Yanhong who imo should have won the Olympic UB Championship outright. Julianne McNamara was terrific on the event but Ma was in another stratosphere on that event. Whenever I watch Retton I immediately have to go over and watch Mosty-Retton's beam sets along-my eyes!!! I'd rather watch Mosty releve all day on one toe than watch MLR's version of 'artistic' gymnastics on any event except vault. Mosty and the Soviet machine would have rolled over Retton like a tank had they been at Los Angeles and Olga Mostepanova to me will always be the TRUE 1984 All Around Queen. Retton may have the millions but judging from commentary all over the net I'd say Mostepanova has the lion's share of gymnastic fan's respect.

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  4. 'alone' I meant not 'along'. Darn typos! :D

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  5. Mosty (most likely would have) pwned MLR, not arguing with that. In fact, IMO that's so obvious that the everpresent gymternet wailing about it is actually kind of counterproductive, drawing comparisons to Lady Macbeth who doth protest too much by less knowledgeable fans.

    That being said, MLR's the 1984 WAG AA OGM, like it or not...you can't just hand out medals to the best overall athletes a la an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement - at the Olympics, showing up is kind of a prerequisite to winning stuff. (Yes, I know Mosty didn't have any choice. We're stuck with it anyway).

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    1. Yeah, deciding that ML's gold wasn't "legit" is sort of silly. Sure, in a fully attended Games, perhaps not--but those were the official Olympics and she was awarded that medal. It's a little like deciding that Nadia was the "real" AA champion in '80 or Komova the "real" chmapion in Tokyo. The fans don't decide who wins--the judges do and yes, you DO have to show up. You can't petition for the gold medal!

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  6. I will say Mary Lou was way lucky, but it was watching Mary Lou during the Olys that made me forced my parents to enroll and pay for my gymnastics lessons for 8 yrs...humpf

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  7. On my own behalf, I am issuing a disclaimer that "Margaret" is in no way affiliated with Margaret Thatcher.

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  8. Lol. I'm glad you said that, MT. I was like, "whaaaaaaaaaat?"

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  9. Mostepanova's beam is gorgeous, I love her acro pass of a handstand press full, step down, handspring to onodi...which should really be called the mostepanova since she competed it first! (in fact Onodi called the skill the mostie before she realized that her skill had not submitted)

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  10. I have no issue with MLR. Let's face it - whoever won that competition was going to have an asterisk by their name no matter what. *Shrugs.* MLR seized the moment and continues to capitalize. More power to her.

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  11. I'm kind of tired of people ragging on Mary Lou (and anyone else from 1984). I agree that MLR wasn't the artistic/creative/innovating/graceful gymnast, and I'm pretty sure she knows full well that if the Games had been fully attended, she probably wouldn't have placed as high. That being said, I'm sure that after the boycott of 1980 (a team which Talavera, McNamara and Johnson were on), these gals were just happy to go to LA and compete, period. It's incredibly sad to me that they not only missed Moscow, but that they have to continue to 'justify' their medals 20+ years after they won them. It was certainly a possibility for McNamara or Johnson to win a medal on floor or bars at a fully-attended Olympics - just as they did at Worlds.

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  12. Mary Lou was 12 during Moscow. Just saying.

    Wu Jiani was primed to win beam during event finals but broke her arm.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zb2FmqemmR4

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  13. Yes, I know Mary Lou's age. However, I'm sure that 12 is old enough to know about and understand an Olympic boycott and what it could mean for 1984.

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  14. It was disappointing for the '80 girls, but everyone knew there was no way that the Americans would ever boycott their own Olympics. To be fair, Mary Lou has never seemed to have that great of an understanding of the world or even international gymnastics. MLR somehow thought she was the best in the world because she beat Soviets in the late fall of '83 when they were past peak coming off of the World Championships.

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  15. Always an excuse for the Soviets....they couldn't possibly have EVER had a crappy day of gymnastics, right?? Geez.

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  16. "They couldn't possibly EVER had a crappy day of gymnastics, right?? Geez."

    There's a reason Mary Lou didn't show up to the Worlds before the Olympics.

    The Soviets historically dominated the Team Event. From 1972 on, I believe counting Worlds/OLympics they only lost two team events. And both were Pre Olympic years when they were trying to figure out/test out athletes to see who to take to the Olympics.

    If a girl didn't show she was able to compete well, she'd never make the Olympic Team. Ask the fab 1985 co World AA champion about that.

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  17. I realize they probably won more team events than just 1972 on but I don't feel like researching that. :lol: So I'll start with Tourischeva.

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  18. Nevertheless, if it wasn't for MLR most US gymnastics clubs would still be run out of storage lockers and the 200 female US gymnasts would either be wearing WalMart sweatpants or a leo that their Mom sewed up for them... and Aunt Joyce would be blogging about skating and, oh, I don't know, curling?

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  19. Aunt Joyce would've loved Olga and Nadia, who made the sport popular in the US to begin with.

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  20. are there any good curling blogs out there?

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  21. try ontd_curling on livejournal....

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  22. There was a huge gymnastics boom after Olga, and again with Nadia in the States. WELL before MLR came along. And like Anonymous 9:27PM said-there's a reason MLR didn't show up at Worlds in 1983. Karolyi knew she wasn't going to measure up against the likes of the Soviets, the Romanians AND the East Germans in top form.

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  23. Despite her deficiencies, MLR's double layout (which she used to do as her SECOND pass!) or the power of her vaulting.
    Not even close.
    For only having trained at an elite level for a few years, she did pretty damn good. The majority of her "training" was at a place one step above a community center.
    Don't get me wrong: hating is one of life's biggest joys. Watching Carly Patterson and Tara Lapinski brought out my inner misanthrope. But at least they had the benefit of years of grooming.

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