Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alicia Sacramone's Medal



Like many people, I am thoroughly entertained watching the effusive Alicia Sacramone.  While I never expect her to upgrade her passes, I find her a breath of fresh air compared to the current generation of American robots.  I love that Alicia stuck it out and became a better competitor over many years.

I do take issue with Alicia being considered the most decorated American gymnast in terms of World Championship medals.  The term 'most decorated' is iffy because one really has to consider World and Olympic medals.  The European gymnasts include European and World Cup medals in their overall haul.  One could also consider medals at US Nationals.  Things get a bit murky when some successful gymnasts competed during a time when Worlds were held every other year, while some got to attend a split Worlds in 1994 and can claim being the member of two distinct World Teams.  Some gymnasts have medals from World Champions and Olympic Games in the same year.



Gymnastics is so inconsistent that I don't take much stock in decoration tallies anymore.  It is a useful tagline for agents, but it doesn't mean much.  As an athlete, you never want to win a title with an asterisk.  The title is forever tainted and ultimately becomes a source of embarrassment.  Courtney Kupets earned a gold medal at the 2003 World Championships because she competed in prelims.  It is not the way to win a medal and even that has a feeling of a half medal to many.  I don't doubt that every bench warmer has their role on the team, but there become gray areas. Like many people, I do not consider Alicia Sacramone to be worthy of a medal at Worlds.  Alicia is a wonderful gymnast and personality, but she did not earn a single score at these championships.  She was not even in the country when the team was competing.  I feel the same way awarding Alicia this medal as I do when Courtney McCool mentions her Olympic Silver.  It just feels tainted.



It is not necessarily Alicia's fault for holding onto her position on the World Team.  While Martha does like Alicia, Kathy Kelly has long been her biggest supporter.  Martha was 'thru wit her' for a while before she earned her way back into her good graces.

While many people get annoyed over Nastia Liukin and skaters like Johnny Weir, Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen being deliberately coy about their comebacks, I have the same reaction whenever we hear Alicia discuss upgrades.  Even worse, I feel an eye roll at the revisionist history that Alicia Sacramone is the Lavinia Milosovici of Team USA.

Milo was a great team leader and captain.  True Fact: Alicia anointed herself the Team Captain in 2008 and no one disputed her because they didn't want to wind up at the receiving end of anyone's wrath.  Alicia did give a rallying speech in 2007; she also acted like a complete drama queen at the 2008 Olympic Games and got herself so worked up that she could not focus on the task at hand minutes later.  Her behavior during event finals at the 2007 Worlds proved that the success of the team doesn't 'come first.'  I love her candor, but I do think the media has taken the speech at the 2007 Worlds and run with it far beyond its merits.



Many expert journalists were present on the media call for Team USA.  Unfortunately, these journalists do not spend a great deal of time covering gymnastics.  They are not invested in the sport the way journalists cover football or the way Phil Hersh and Christine Brennan covered figure skater for a decade.  The members of the media are so eager to form their own engaging narrative to get their stories in print that they overlooked the fact that when asked about how she could help the younger members of Team USA, Alicia was flat out stumped.  Let's be real: when you're on Martha Karolyi's team, Martha is the Team Captain in every situation.  Everything else is pretty much a crock.



Alicia will likely come up just shy of a return trip to the Olympic Games.  This medal and distinction may ease the twinge of pain she feels as she recovers from her surgery, but we are not done seeing Alicia.  Even if she doesn't compete, Alicia will be all over TV during the Olympic Games.  We're in it with her for the long haul.  We may all smirk at the (seemingly) born-again virgin tweeting bible verses, but we need to remember that we supported her and have responsibility in creating this fall sense of self.  The girl is a phenomenal vaulter, but she is also the third-best vaulter on Team USA in a time when she won medals without having to stick her vaults.  It may be harsh to point out that Alicia earns most of her medals from a final where most gymnasts choose not to go for due to praying to remain in tact, but you know that Shannon Miller is likely thinking the same thing.

Alicia is an effervescent girl who is fun to watch and sets the iPod playlist for Team USA, but let's keep things in perspective.  Aly Raisman was shown taking the initiative to give her fellow floor workers a speech during team finals.  It appeared genuine and not for the cameras.  We're unlikely to ever hear anything about it.  Anna Li handled herself with so much class on the floor at Worlds in a leotard and stood on the rostrum, yet the history books will say nothing of it.

53 comments:

  1. Thank you! I don't even like you Aunt Joyce, but FINALLY someone has said the truth about Alicia.

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  2. I'm a huge Shannon Miller fan and would love for her to remain "most decorated" forever (and, factoring the little event we like to call the Olympics, she probably will be for a long time). But I also remember that she earned her 1994 team medal in much the same way that Kupets earned her team medal in 2003, and McCool earned hers in 2004: without competing in the actual team finals. Perhaps it is a tainted way to earn that medal, but it also just reminds me that all of this line-drawing for "most decorated" isn't straightforward at all, regardless of who you want that person to be.

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  3. I think your last paragraph sums up nicely a lot of my feelings about Team USA. Aly stepped up brilliantly during this event, even though I don't get the impression at all she considers herself a leader. Likewise, I don't think the role Anna Li played in keeping Gabby Douglas from headcasing can be overstated. Even though I'm sure this is the last international event for Anna Li, she was the totally supportive teammate that this overwhelmed group of young girls needed to keep from falling to pieces. Especially with Gabby. When I think back on this US team, those are the two things I will remember most.

    Anyway. This is one of your best posts, I think.

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  4. Yeah, I really don't care who is most decorated. Nastia won some of her World medals at one of the weakest Worlds I've ever seen (2005). Really, who cares who has 9 medals and who has 10? All the gymnasts who have this many medals are special in their own right.

    I don't like putting down Alicia's vault medals though. It is a special talent to be able to do two different vaults well, and we should not make light of Vault Finals just because so many gymnasts are incapable of a second vault or choose not to train it.

    And yes, Alicia may be the 3rd best vaulter in the US, but I guarantee she is protecting her body more on a Rudi than anyone is chucking an Amanar. In other words, don't write her off because you never know what can happen.

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  5. I'm sick of all this lovely dovey shit from the US girls. They are all so nice, next year the older girls better bring it and start being bitches again. Honestly, Alicia and Nastia and even Shawn and Chellsie better cut the "leadership" crap they've been spewing and starting looking out for number 1 like we know they really do. I have a feeling that they could actually effectively mind **** these nice sweet US girls. Especially now that they have expectations on them now and the vets are seemingly the underdogs now.

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  6. If Alicia had a good Amanar, she'd compete it. Her Yurchenko technique tends to be shoddy. She wouldn't do a Yurchenko Full at Classics if she had any intention of ever doing the Amanar.

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  7. One could argue that this team had such great chemistry because diva Alicia wasn't there making it all about herself.

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  8. Haha, no, what I meant is that she is less likely to experience a traumatic injury by doing Rudis than the other girls who are chucking Amanars. Sac is definitely protecting her body more with her secure Rudi. I think an Amanar is just a treacherous vault in general. (And of course, I realize Sac will never upgrade vault.)

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  9. "Chemistry" on a gymnastics team is overrated. If it was a basketball team, fine, but these girls' performances don't really have anything to do with each other. I don't doubt that certain pep talks and things can help get the more mental girls in a better frame of mind, but I highly doubt Alicia or anyone has a significant impact in terms of chemistry. The girls on this team all seem to like her anyway, so I would assume she's not causing much drama.

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  10. THAT'S her photo in the ESPN body issue? A touch of "Human Centipede" to it. But nonetheless klassy... just like her choices of tattoos.

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  11. Awesome write-up AJ. 100% capture my thoughts on the matter especially the last paragraph.

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  12. No Country for Old [Whiners]October 12, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Oh stop your whining and bitching. Your blog has clearly shown your "secret" (really not so secret) obsession with Nastia. Now you're clearly livid and venting since Alicia has the record. Let it go and just hope Nastia puts her money where her mouth is and actually makes a true comeback.

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  13. I love this post. I agree with so much of what you've said here, particularly about how mainstream sports journalists fashion and perpetuate narratives that sound really neat & tidy & Disney-fied on paper but which typically do not bring the gymnastics fans nearer to the reality of the situation. This type of journalism creates a distance between the fans and the sport, which is very frustrating. I’m glad you’re attempting to fill the gap.

    Can you please become an NBC commentator? My vote: Aunt Joyce + KJC + ,uh, I don’t know, Tim Gun? Yes, Tim Gun.

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  14. It was a strange way to get a medal having not done anything, but who else would it have gone to? Li? She likewise did not compete.

    As for Sac's leadership, I've always found it a bit annoying and overhyped. I'm sure she gets along fine with the girls, but as soon as she went down with injury the dozens of posts about oh no how will the girls function without Alicia/do it for Alicia, girls! was a bit much.

    I'm likewise skeptical about the supposed role Li played in "calming" the girls or whatever. How do we know she kept Gabby calm and not someone/something else? I'm not sure why age defaults them to being all knowing and capable of calming everyone down. I'm not saying she didn't - but everyone is so quick to say she was behind it all but do we actually know that?

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  15. LOL at that EF video. SO pouty. Although I'm not sure I would hold those actions in such a light as to say that it shows team doesn't come first to her. She was competing in event finals, not team finals and she lost.

    Crappy sportsmanship for sure, but it was about individual's and their events at that point. When Nastia lost the AA by a that slim margin to Chellsie and she pouted, does that show team doesn't come first to her? If they were pulling this mess in prelims, maaaaybe.

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  16. I think if you compete in prelims at least, then getting a medal is okay. Of course I'd like to see every gymnast compete in team finals on at least one event (that should be a rule...it'd be waaay more interesting), but with the FIG's stupid 3-up-3-count system right now, that's just not going to happen because sometimes it's "too risky" like Marta says.

    Are we absolutely sure Alicia gets that team medal? It just doesn't make sense. So was Anna on the podium as a stand-in for Alicia and Anna isn't really a world champion? Because then that would mean the Russia & China alternates must get medals too, which wouldn't make sense because then why have a six-team format if all six members + the alternate will get a medal? Weird. Someone should looks into this. If Alicia gets the medal, then that must mean Anna doesn't.

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  17. Isn't it that the alternates DON'T get medals in the ceremony or from the officials, but that USAG has always had a duplicate made for the alternate? So, in a sense Li will have a medal. Whether or not you want to call her a world champion is iffy I guess. Would you consider any alternate to a team a whatever medalist? idk.

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  18. I thought I read somewhere (possibly John Geddert's blog, maybe gymnastike) that Gabby was incredibly nervous and Li calmed her down a lot. If you follow them both on twitter, you see that Anna Li has done a good job of keeping Gabby (who headcased pretty seriously at Visas) relaxed. I definitely recall reading somewhere someone attributed Gabby's calmness to Anna's presence... I'll investigate further, though.

    It's impossible to say for sure, but using all of the clues available, it sounds like Anna's presence did a lot for Gabby. If NCAAs taught her anything, it taught her to be a teammate and it seems like she was a spectacular teammate to all of the girls.

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  19. Great post. Personally, I was never a fan of Alicia or her style of gymnastics (except for her Rudi vaults) but I always admired perseverance, her strength of character. I'm still not enamored of her gymnastics but I was very sorry to hear she was injured. I thought it very wrong that Anna Li (if she was ready as some seem to feel) was not allowed to compete. I don't have a problem with an 'alternate' medal for Anna Li but I do have a problem with ANY kind of a medal for someone who wasn't even in the country during the competition. Alicia is undeserving of this medal and I certainly don't recognize her as the 'most decorated' American gymnast. And I won't until she gets on the competition floor at the Olympics or Worlds-if she ever does again-and earns a REAL medal. To me Shannon, and Nastia remain the most decorated. And to me a 'most decorated' medal count should include the Olympics-and not just a team medal. JMO.

    As to Alicia's nude shot-they WOULD choose the fugliest pose in her beam set.

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  20. ITA with your post AJ!! Alicia does not deserve the title of 'most decorated' not unless she earns it by actually competing!

    OT but does anyone know what's happened to WWGym? I've tried to log on and keep getting an error message.

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  21. Alicia seems to think she's getting a medal given that she chewed some follower on twitter for telling her she didny earn it. She told him(?) to take it up with USAG as it was their idea & not hers.

    She'll always have an asterick next to her "most decorated usa gymnast" in world comp (assumng she's done). I'd either try for a real one or decline it.

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  22. in my mind Nastia and Shannon are the most decorated they competed for the 9 medals they have. other countries won't acknowledge this medal given to Alicia. if she competed in qualifications yes the medal should be hers but she wasn't even on the floor and didn't qualify into the event.. so the medal is NOT rightfully hers. she should decline it, i saw someone on twitter told her this but Alicia responded and disagrees.

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  23. I was impressed with Anna Li's composure and seemingly sunny attitude throughout - whenever the cameras went off-podium she was smiling and controlled. Putting a good face on it makes me respect her - regardless of the truth of the Gaby rumours. As for Alicia - I bet she is far prouder of her individual medals that of this one so I suspect that it is inconsequential to her - probably it should go to neither Anna nor her. I feel sorry for Anna as I think that Marta should have given her a chance to get to event finals - sometimes it's not all about the team - and there was no real doubt that the US was going to make it successfully into the top two so I think she should have risked it.

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  24. "in my mind Nastia and Shannon are the most decorated they competed for the 9 medals they have"

    Alicia already had 9 medals, so in any case, she's still 1st (tied).

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  25. I'm actually a pretty big fan of Alicia's...I just don't buy that she is some leader or deserving of this medal. Nastia could have the title outright of she had gone to Worlds this year...but she didn't go through with her second comeback attempt because her agent was still packing her schedule.

    To me, most decorated includes Worlds + Olympics (and other titles) and that is Shannon.

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  26. Who else would the medal have gone to? Anna Li? I'd pick ASac over Anna Li.

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  27. I don't mean to imply that Anna did nothing for the team. Rather, it seems by default the older person is deemed the leader that holds everyone together. I thought it was odd that everyone was so impressed that Aly 'stepped up' in Alicia's absence, but maybe Aly has always been like that but with louder voices around (and I do think Alicia likes being center of attention) who have been anointed the glue of the team you don't see it.

    If that makes sense.

    Anyway, I disagree with attacking Alicia over the medal as I'm sure she had nothing to do with the decision. If anything she's been put in a sticky situation where she now has to defend herself because of the actions of Marta and co. It's not her fault Marta kept Anna out. Why should she have to refuse the medal? Why should she have to hand it over to Anna who likewise competed zero routines (again, not her fault)?

    I doubt either athlete would be like OH YEAH LOOK AT THE GOLD MEDAL I EARNED.

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  28. I don't really think Alicia should have gotten the team medal considering she didn't even compete, but I also don't agree with that "follower" (more like troll) harassing her over it. I don't really think anyone needs someone who doesn't know them lecturing them about integrity and giving back medals over twitter, especially right after having surgery on what has the potential to be a dream ending injury. That's screwed up.

    But yeah. Sentimentally, I like Alicia having that medal. I adore her. There are so many things about her gymnastics that I hate in every other gymnast that has the same problems, but for some reason I forgive it on her. Maybe it's because she isn't a damn robot like the rest of them. Maybe it's because she has some sort of "it" factor that I can't define....I don't even know. But sentimentally? When I heard Alicia went down, I wanted to cry. I wanted to have someone punch me in the face for wanting to cry, but I did.
    And when I heard about the medal thing, I thought it was kinda sweet.....but take the sentimental bullshit out and when she didn't even compete, she obviously didn't earn the medal.

    But LOL about the 2007 finals thing AJ. That was seriously one of my favorite moments of that competition. Frickin Shawn Johnson, man. I so wanted Alicia to win that title over her bubbly, cheesy, childish crap routine. I was also glad to see Alicia be real for a minute and actually show her distaste instead of spouting the robotic "just do my best" and "oh so proud for team USA" crap that everyone else does.

    Yes, Shawn trolls, please lecture me on the difficulty and blahblahblah. I already know all of it--doesn't mean I have to care.

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  29. i also think there should be a rule that all team members(xcept injury)should have to compete one routine in the finals. like terin in03

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  30. If Anna were a team player, she would not have bellyached about the lineu on the Internet, the night before the meet. Fuck her.

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  31. I agree with every word of this post. I'm surprised ASac would even want this medal, knowing her tell it like it is attitude.

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  32. I rather expect, or at least hope, that neither Alicia nor Anna give a rat's ass what people think about whether or not they deserved a medal. They fought as hard as they could, they had the desire and unfortunately, stuff happens. And for them, it happened at the worst possible time. If the FIG or USAG want to give them a medal, then so be it. Those two girls will have their own private feelings about it. Everyone else who don't think they rate a medal should just STFU.

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  33. evilapprentice, Alicia's landings sucked in the floor finals. She had no reason to think she should have won.

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  34. Re-watching the floor final made me think...

    First, Alicia showed no grace in terms of her reaction to winning silver. Yes, she wanted gold but still. And btw, in case she didn't realize it, she almost sat down her 3rd pass (as usual).

    Many of the 2007-2008 group were none too happy with Shawn Johnson being so good, basically always hitting and winning. Yet, this group of girls seem to love Jordyn Weiber and have no issue with her being the golden child (hitting & winning). Was it SJ's bubbly personality that got to them (like that annoying happy person everyone knows and is easily annoyed with)? Or is it because these current group of girls are just less petty and catty than say Alicia, Nastia, Shayla? ...maybe something we'll never know :P

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  35. Screw the Shawn speculation, I wanna know if Nastia hates Alicia now for technically exceeding her total. She's been so pressed in the past when people have beaten her.

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  36. If you don't COMPETE, you don't deserve a medal or credit of any kind. What the h--- is the point of competition if you get a medal when you aren't even in the country for the competition??? Come on!!

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  37. Yeah, it's typical "American" mentality for credit to be given just for being associated to the win, and not actually accomplishing anything...Sad, but true.

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  38. Ohhh man, a commentary team of AJ + KJC = gymgasm. Come on peeps, there's gotta be some way to make that happen!

    Also, ITA w/whoever commented on Alicia's "nude" pic - I <3 the ladies and she's got nice legs there, but all those ribs + no boobs? Not sexy. JMO.

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  39. Re: "American" mentality, and this is an honest question, how is this typical? What is Alicia taking credit for or being given credit for? At the end of the day, one of two athletes was going to get a medal they did nothing for.

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  40. I love how you mention Courtney McCool's Olympic silver medal as "tainted" but you don't say anything about Samantha Peszek's Olympic silver medal. They both only competed in qualifiers but Sam competed only one event while Courtney competed four. I know Sam got injured but still, she hardly competed. Also with the benefit of hindsight we see that Martha probably should have used Courtney in team finals, but that's another discussion for another day. I think both Sam and Courtney deserved their medals for competing at the Olympics. No, it wasn't team finals but it was still the Olympics. I just wanted to point out that your bias is showing.

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  41. you and your commentary are truly pathetic. I no longer have any interest in what you have to say. Please stop bashing people who work hard to achieve their dreams while you do nothing but sit behind your keyboard and wish you were someone like alicia, courtney, or samantha

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  42. LMAO at the projected butthurt preceding.

    Whatevs. Homegirl needs to call it a day... just like her third-string QB boyfriend.

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  43. Miller earned her medal by competing in compulsories. She helped the team advance.

    Alicia did nothing. Marta gave her this medal after she told her she hated her for getting hurt just to erase Shannon's name from the record books. She will do the same for Nastia next year with hope she gets 3 medals.

    She brags about her hatred of Shannon all the time. She's an old hag.

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    1. I agree with you; for this reason, Miller and Sacramone are different. It is the *article* that does not appear to recognize a distinction between competing in preliminary rounds and not competing at all; it lumps together Sacramone with Kupets and McCool, as gymnasts that have tainted medals, but then says that Miller - who has just as "tainted" a medal as Kupets and McCool - is herself probably looking down on Sacramone. Of course there is a distinction between Miller and Sacramone. But the article should categorize Kupets and McCool with the former, rather than with the latter. Doing that only makes AJ's argument internally inconsistent, and so actually compromises his opinion on just how tainted Sacramone's medal is.

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  44. Nastia doesn't hate Alicia because Alicia will never be an AA gymnast. Anything Alicia does will never compete with the Olympic gold medalist so she won't care.

    The two gymnasts that beat Nastia in the AA are the ones she bad mouthed and called names. She is a bitch and the free pass she got for treating both of them like shit is stupid.

    Don't worry. I am sure Nastia is too busy training to read the comments here so you will still get your tweets. You are nothing better then a stalker.

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  45. Alicia's mother just sent nasty twitetr messages to people that called Alicia out and they were polite.
    No wonder Alicia is a ego maniac bitch. She got it from her mother.

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  46. That person is harassi9ng Alicia on twitter but the other person getting stalked by Alicia's mother and friend made one comment until recently.

    Alicia did not deserve that medal. It's a fact and the idea that she thinks she deserved it is fucking whacked.

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  47. Shawn could have helped on beam and bars. :(

    She is better than Vega.

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  48. Sure Shawn could have helped, but what difference would her help have made? The USA still won and won convincingly. She may have added a few tenths, but Vega did her job and did her job well. Give the girl some credit.

    And WHEN/WHERE did Alicia say she deserves the medal? I don't understand you people attacking her. I haven't read a single thing where she's quoted saying anything that remotely sounds like she feels she is deserving. All I've heard is the tweet that said it was USAG's decision.

    Which it was.

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  49. I couldn't care less about who gets the medal, and the silly geekboy record. I'm just glad someone called out this phony "leadership" crap. It's easy to be a "leader" when everything's going great, but she wasn't much of a leader when she had her little melt down in Beijing (and brought everyone down around her) and whenever anything goes wrong. When the chips are down, that's when you see the TRUE character. Most of the girls from the last quad come across as nasty bitches. I like these new girls, I hope they just keep getting better and stay healthy, calm and focused so they can earn their spots on merit and we don't have anymore of the old guard, with all their drama and psychic garbage.

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  50. that whole Shayla clique was nasty.

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  51. Bottom line here is jealousy. You females are jealous of the "alpha" female in it's beautiful form just like males are. It's the way the world works.Media chose Alicia as main focus because of her know "toughness" and beauty, she got extra exposure, females get threatened. End of story.Not about gymnastics at all now is it.

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