Fourth-Place Medal

Danell Leyva suffers ugly crash during world championships

Danell Leyva, the American all-around champion, took a frightening fall while performing on the high bar at the gymnastics world championships in Tokyo today. Leyva was competing in the all-around final, and was on his final apparatus. Skip to the 4:45 mark to see his routine.

After completing two release moves successfully, Leyva came in at an odd angle on the third move. That caused him to hit his chin on the bar and then fall to the ground. He was not able to continue his routine and had to come off the mat. Later, through a representative, Leyva said that he was not injured.

I guess on high bar, it was a freak thing.  I let go too early.  I'm alright — my pride hurts more than anything.

Recently, there has been a groundswell for a change in the gymnastics scoring system to prevent risky moves. Leyva's ugly fall will add to that, as will Japan's Yusuke Tanaka falling on his head during the floor exercise. Tanaka tried to complete his routine, but his coaches pulled him off of the floor when they saw that he was too dazed to continue.

In 2005, the judging system changed in response to several judging controversies. Instead of the family perfect-10 scoring system, two scores would be generated. While gymnasts would still get an execution score that would be out of 10, they would also get a difficulty score. Each move is scored on its difficulty, and those scores add up to the D score. There is no ceiling on how high the D score can go, and the D score happens whether the gymnasts perform the move perfectly or not.

That means a gymnast is rewarded for trying new moves, whether they are perfect or not. Gymnasts are constantly throwing out new moves, and are also constantly injured. Three returning Olympian and two world medalists couldn't be a part of the American women's team this week because of injury. Aliya Mustafina, the all-around world champ in 2010, couldn't compete because of a knee injury.

Usually, gymnastics only changes their code of points in the year following the Olympics, but officials need to take a hard look at the scoring now. How many more injuries need to happen for them to make a change?

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