August 18, 2008
Look, I don't know much about gymnastics, but I do know that landing a vault on two feet is better than landing one on two knees. Olympic gymnastics judges evidently disagree with me, as they awarded China's Cheng Fei a bronze medal yesterday even after she fell on her vault landing. American Alicia Sacramone finished fourth despite, you know, not falling.
12-year old 16-year old Chinese gymnast He Kexin won gold over Nastia Liukin based on an obscure tiebreaking rule. The two received the same score from the judges, but He won a tiebreak because an Australian judge apparently was watching a different competition.
Every judging break seems to have gone China's way during these Olympics. I'm not suggesting a conspiracy, I just think that judges are humans who are influenced by big names, fans and other external factors. Oh, and they're also terrible. Judged events will always be viewed with skepticism by those who lose for this reason, particularly those who lose to a member of the home delegation. (Think Roy Jones Jr. at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.)
It is because of this skewed inconsistency that Fourth-Place Medal introduces The Real 2008 Medal Count. Our medal count will tally medals won in sports decided on the field of play, not by a judge in a teal blazer.
The judged Olympic events we will ignore for our tally are: boxing, diving, equestrian, gymnastics, judo, taekwondo, trampoline and wrestling. We debated whether to include boxing, wrestling and the martial arts in the list, as they can be decided by competitors. However, because the judging is prone to error and shenaningans, we will include it.
The Real 2008 Medal Count
China: 22 gold; 11 silver; 11 bronze
United States: 21 gold; 19 silver; 21 bronze
As you can see, in the events where medals are determined by competitors rather than judges, the gold medal gap between China and the U.S. is greatly narrowed, and the total medal count is an American runaway. Counting the judged events, China has a commanding lead in golds. Hmmm... Nope, nothing fishy about that!
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