On Tom Daley, sport, athletes and media…

I’ll be honest, I don’t watch a lot of ‘live’ TV. I tend to have a bit of HIMYM on in the background when I come home from work and I’m getting some food and (usually) throwing it down my neck before I have to head back out again, and sometimes if I’m in the house at weekends I’ll have it on while I’m cooking or writing or social media-ing. That’s about it.

So I didn’t have a clue what ‘Splash’ was apart from that I was informed by means of twitter that Rebecca was going to be watching it because she was cooking tea for Simon. And Tom Daley was somehow involved.

I follow a fair number of people connected to Olympic sports – journalists, sports bloggers, coaches, athletes – on twitter. And the other day I saw people explode as the Director of British Swimming (probably the only UK sports organisation that got a lot of criticism from athletes and others before & after the Olympics) criticised Tom Daley for not taking his training seriously and becoming a celebrity before he’d achieved all his success.

I don’t usually read the Daily Mail but I was whooping and cheering on Debbie Daley (Tom’s Mum) as she responded to David Sparkes comments in an open letter in the paper. I was even more pleased to see the number of athletes and coaches – like Pete Waterfield, Leon Taylor, Rebecca Adlington and Andy Banks who were showing their support and concern that Tom was being criticised.

Really? Is this how we repay our athletes?

1. Tom is 18. He’s achieved a great deal more in diving than most British divers already individually and with his partners.  He’s been a World Champion, Commonwealth Champion and Olympic medallist. All while doing school, seeing his Dad dying from cancer and now providing for his family. Quite frankly, he could retire if he wanted to. His passion for diving (and let’s be honest, his good looks) have made people want to watch a ‘minority sport’.

2. Most Olympic athletes have been out of ‘full-on’ training and having a well earned rest. Why can’t Tom?

3. I don’t see British Gymnastics criticising Louis Smith for ‘not taking his training seriously’ and doing Strictly Come Dancing when he hasn’t announced retirement or making statements in the newspapers.

I have to confess that I’ll have to use gymnastics as my comparison because I know most about that sport. In the states, the Gold medal gymnasts – and they’ve all expressed a desire to continue in the sport – got to do a major tour which meant they came out of training for several months. They did lots of media appearances and all the rest. Their coaches supported them because they believed they needed to grab hold of the opportunities and enjoy their success. Now Kyla Ross is already back in training and due to compete in American Cup in March. Jordyn Wieber has started to come back into training with the intention of competing at the US Nationals this summer. We don’t see USA Gymnastics saying in newspapers ‘Well, I don’t think the gymnasts should be doing these tours’. They see it as celebrating gymnastics and using it to get more people inspired to take up the sport. To remind the athletes why they love the sport.

It saddens me to ask some of my Guides who inspires them when they tell me of people from reality TV shows like The Only Way is Essex or  ‘X Factor’. But now my friend’s daughter knows who Louis Smith is because she loves to watch Strictly Come Dancing with her Auntie at weekends. When we found out Beth Tweddle was going to be on Dancing on Ice, I got the chance to show her who Torvill and Dean are too.

We also get to see how difficult a sport diving is. I watched a bit of it tonight and I was impressed by the guts of some of the ‘celebrities’ (most of whom I didn’t have a clue who they were!) trying it out and you realise how much work and risk goes into Olympic sports. And even if it’s not the kind of show I like, I’d rather see something like ‘Splash’ than ‘Big Brother’ or ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ which maybe gets people interested in real sport so we see more Diving, Swimming, Gymnastics, wheelchair athletics or hand cycling and less football and cricket…!

Good on you Tom – for sticking with Diving, for working so hard and being willing to share your love of the sport with others. And Debbie – you and Rob are inspirational parents. Thankfully I know you aren’t the only ones, but I wish there were more like you!

2012 is almost over…but there’s more to come in 2013…

So tonight I was tweeting during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards, and discovered that the GB Special Olympics team had started following me on twitter. I hadn’t realise they were on twitter, and not sure how they found me, but I’m happy they did.

28th Jan 2013 is the start of the Winter Special Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

A family from my old church in Aberdeen have a special connection, as their son (who unbelievably is now 17 or 18 – he was just a wee kid when I used to go round to their house for student lunch!) is one of the skiers in Team GB who’ll be competing.

You can follow the Team’s blog here: http://2013wintergamesgbteam.wordpress.com/ and Special Olympics GB on twitter (@SOGreatBritain).

After such an exciting year in sport, my hope is to continue giving shout outs to sports that don’t get the same attention as Football, rugby, cricket, golf and tennis… :)

And did I mention that my tickets are booked and have even already arrived for next year’s FIG World Cup in Glasgow? Yep. Ruairidh and Saija are back on guard duty…

The reindeer guard my Gymnastics World Cup tickets!

The reindeer guard my Gymnastics World Cup tickets!

Ticking off the gymnastics bucket list…

…Despite being off work most of last week with a throat infection, I was DETERMINED to get to Glasgow on Saturday. After failing to get Olympic tickets, I was truly gutted – and totally scunnered to see empty seats at the events when I was watching it on TV. I knew that there was an FIG World Cup event in Glasgow each year, and so when the chance came a couple of months ago to get pre-sale tickets as a fan of British Gymnastics I jumped on the opportunity straight away not caring who I got to see compete! My friend Kathy was going to come with me, but then she realised she had a wedding – so Lynn stepped up to the plate as my gymnastics friend.

Saturday came, and I got up, sucked on strepsils, packed a lunch, covered my face in concealer, foundation AND bronzer because according to my Mum ‘I look awful’ at the moment (extra pale), and headed to the train station with my Olympic Torch Relay flag.

I have to say the event was super organised(aside from the tickets only arriving about a week before the event sending me into panic stations). They had put on free shuttle buses from the main bus station in Glasgow to the arena. And as it turns out…just as well.

I soon realised that my bringing my flag from the Torch Relay (a Union Jack) was a dangerous thing – as our bus stopped for a rather large Orange March on our way to the arena. I then realised the arena was in the Parkhead area…the home of Celtic Football Club. You might know about the riots and violence that’s been going on in Northern Ireland over the last week. You might also know that people on either side of the Republican/Loyalist debate like to associate with Celtic and Rangers – the ‘catholic’ and ‘protestant’ football clubs of Glasgow. Basically, wandering around a ‘Celtic’ area of Glasgow carrying a Union Jack flag is basically like walking around with a target on your back. And it didn’t fit into my backpack. OOPS.

I got there safely on the bus, and was greeted by friendly stewards who handed me a programme, showed me where to go and allowed me back out to meet Lynn with her ticket!

We settled in our seats to eat our lunches, watched Beth Tweddle and I explained who all the gymnasts competing were to Lynn. They had helpful videos on the big screen to explain each event which was great for the newbies to gymnastics.

It was a super long afternoon, but we were blessed with some great gymnastics – especially considering it’s the end of an Olympic year! Marcel Nguyen showed why he won the silver medal behind King Kohei Uchimura in London. we got to see Danell Leyva’s Dad and Coach, Yin do his exuberant  clapping, bouncing and air punching. I strongly believe that Elizabeth Price could win the All-around at worlds next year in Antwerp. And I was gutted that Rebecca Tunney fell from the beam, because she could easily have got a medal if that hadn’t happened. The crowd loved the Japanese guy (I can’t remember if it was Saito or Tanaka) who threw a bit of Gangnam Style when they ‘introduced’ all the gymnasts. I loved the amazing mount to the beam Wakana Inoue performed. Daniel Purvis gave a great pommel horse routine and fought through some minor errors after falling on the Floor event. Kristian Thomas nailed his floor routine, but a disastrous time on Pommel Horse became a theme as he fell on several other events after which was very uncharacteristic for him. What I loved though, is any time a gymnast fell, the crowd cheered them on throughout their routine once they got back on – no matter what colour their leotard was.

So finally – some pictures from the day…

Just one of many inspirational athletes…

I can’t believe that the Paralympics ends this weekend. It has been incredible to see the Paralympics come home to the country of their birth, which was of course at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1948 when London hosted the Olympics in 1948.

I think I’ve watched just about every single ‘Raising an Olympianstory, and I wish P&G had included more Paralympians in their series. What isn’t included in this story is the fact that Ben was born prematurely. He is deaf and has cerebral palsy as a result. When he was a baby a consultant doctor told his mother that Ben would never be able to walk.

Well, he proved them wrong.

And thank God for his parents – they didn’t wrap him in cotton wool, but encouraged him to discover what he COULD do, instead of focusing on what he wasn’t able to do.

And he didn’t just walk, he became an athlete. A sprinter. He ran (on a broken foot no less) to get a silver medal in the Paralympics. The other day he ran to a Bronze in the 200m to add another Paralympic medal to his collection.

There was a great documentary about Ben’s journey from Beijing to London on Channel 4, which if you are in the UK I totally recommend watching (just a wee warning, there are some scenes of a knee surgery if you’re squeamish about things like that!). You can watch it online over at 4oD.

How to get kids to hate sport & ruin an Olympic legacy

The olympics have been awesome. It’s been great to see triumph, it’s been heart wrenching to watch the disappointment. We’ve seen rowers being dragged to their feet by Sir Steve, people competing on fractured bones, crashes, near misses and the joy of simply competing.

There are some that sadly, have forgotten what the Olympics are about. It’s not just about winning. It’s about  your work being rewarded with the honour of representing your country and competing alongside athletes from across the globe.

To quote one of my favourite films “If you aren’t enough without it [a gold medal], you’ll never be enough with it“.

As a graduate of health science, I’m all for getting kids active. I’ve really done my best to get people excited about the Olympics, encouraging my parenting friends to watch it with their kids. At Guides, we combined the Amelia’s Challenge badge with the ‘On Your Marks’ programme that Girlguiding created to tie in with London 2012. I’m hoping they’ve been watching (I did tell them they all had to know who Beth Tweddle was by the end of the summer) and I’m hoping they’ve been inspired by it.

And then I heard the disappointing and frustrating news today that our Prime Minister is backing compulsory competitive sports in the school curriculum.

ARRRRGGGGHHHH!

For me it brought back memories of being forced to do certain sports at PE in school. I was terrible. It became that being good at team sports made you popular. It wasn’t about taking part. If you screwed up, your team moaned and shouted at you. Even if you did your best. It was humiliating and horrible. By the time high school came around, it turned into bullying and I used to skive school on days I had PE.

Here’s the flip side. Was I an inactive kid  because I was the one who got picked almost to last or preferred to sit and sunbathe on the sidelines that take part in a game of rounders or tennis?

No.

I used to take part in dance classes – 2 a week going into high school. When we were getting ready for exams or a show, sometimes I might be dancing for 5 hours a day. I’d come home with a bag of sweaty leotards, feet blistered and cut and next day my muscles would hurt so bad in school.

I remember my friend Emily feeling ill one day in PE as our teacher made us run round the playing field. She looked white. I stopped to sit with her (our teacher wasn’t really doing anything to help her and I was concerned). He shouted at me and I’ve never forgotten the words “Get moving! This is probably the only exercise you’ll have done this week“.

Red rag to a teenage bull.

I lost no time in setting him straight. The PE teacher at least had nothing to respond with.

The problem with PE, was that you never got a chance to get good at anything. The sporty kids got held back by kids like me who had no talent (or desire) for whatever sport had been forced upon us.And it was mostly team sports. Basketball, hockey, rugby… and PE teachers didn’t necessarily know much about the sport they were teaching. I would have loved the opportunity to improve on my swimming. I had a good breaststroke – my leg stroke (?) was great. My arm stroke sucked (I have no upper body strength). We spent one day on breaststroke in the 4 years I did compulsory high school PE! 2 weeks later I was being made to play rugby without my glasses on. 4 weeks after that hockey.

It is not the way to get kids into sport.

I’m now going to quote Olympic champion, Shawn Johnson. In her book Winning Balance she talks about her work with a US congressman to get kids more active.

“In a traditional PE class, kids might be drilled in the fundamentals of volleyball one day and then lined up and ordered to do push ups the next. It’s an approach many kids hate. And if they dread physical activity at this age, they’re much less likely to be concerned about staying fit later on”

When Jessica Ennis was asked her opinion on plans to get sports more competitive for kids she said it was more important to make it fun, the competitive side should come much later.

I agree.

I also love the idea of what Shawn Johnson Fitness for Life Act bill is doing. The idea is that pupils are given choices about how to spend their PE time. It might be lifting weights, playing a team sport or doing a Dance game on the Nintendo Wii. Whatever they choose the pupils wear heart rate monitors and know what their individual target heart rate is. And once they’ve reached their target, they’ve met their goal for the day and after that they can do what they want. Those who are less fit, or perhaps overweight will reach their target more easily. Those who are aspiring sports stars will have to work harder. The programme gives small successes – and achievable goals to kids who usually feel inferior to the sporty kids.

The real goal“, Shawn Johnson writes “is to help kids discover that exercise is fun“.

In the USA there seems to be much more incentive for sport – sports schloarships, extra curricular sport with decent coaches who know that sport well. Perhaps that’s why they are top of the Olympic table.

And then, you’ve got to look at the sports we have a great legacy in. Cycling was not an option at school. Neither was gymnastics. Or canoeing. Or rowing. Or athletics (other than running 100m races). I was appalled at my PE teacher’s idea of “dance”. Maybe it’s time we think outside of the box. Maybe we let the kids pick a sport to be involved in, the same as they get to pick an instrument to learn to play in music if they want to. Maybe we join forces with local colleges, universities, sports clubs and other schools so that resources can be brought together to give kids opportunity to learn a sport properly and have fun doing it.

Because really…if you don’t love the sport, you’re never going to want to push through the bad times and injuries to keep going towards the chance of Olympic medals.

And Politicians…you might want to think about that.

Look out China, here comes Team GB!

So. This weekend it’s the mens turn for the European Championships. Our women’s team faltered a bit in finals, but our men this week have been showing what they are made of. Our Junior British team won Gold on Thursday in the Junior’s team final. And yesterday our Senior team qualified in first place, our rock Daniel Purvis got 1st All-Around and every single man on the team qualified for a final.

That has never happened before in British Gymnastics.

And let’s just add to this that the team failed to qualify for team finals at Worlds back in October after a mistake ridden performance in the qualifying rounds. One of our star gymnasts isn’t competing at Euros. Oh. And Daniel Purvis had been up most of the night before with food poisoning, had 3 hours sleep, and then had to get up early to warm up and compete in the first of the days’ qualification rounds.

Britain were on Vault first, and he began the day by landing a vault on legs that felt like jelly and literally landed in a judge’s lap. Poor guy. And yet he rallied – despite being washed out from being ill, despite the sleep deprivation….to come 1st individually and lead his team to 1st place qualifying finish. According to teammate, Louis Smith he looked like Casper the friendly ghost in the warm up gym…

Daniel Purvis….you are a star!

Saturday (tomorrow) will bring the team finals, and Sunday will be the individual finals. Look out for the Pommel Horse showdown between Krisztian Berki (HUN) and Louis Smith (GBR). They have been fighting against each other for Gold since 2008 Olympics and they tied for 1st place in qualifiers. Berki is current world champion.

It’s going to be a great weekend of gymnastics!

Oh, and I finally heard back from the BBC who apologised for their delay in replying, though they did not apologise for their poor and inaccurate advertising of the Red Button schedule. They’ve said to me “we remain committed to other sports like gymnastics and will be showing every minute of it during this year’s Olympics.” I hope you realise I’ll be holding you to that BBC! Especially since I won’t be there in person (and yes London 2012 committee, I’m still upset about that).

World Artistic Gymnastics Championships

So just so you understand why I’ve been so glued to the gymnastics (even more than usual, because I confess I often don’t watch all the men’s events). Here is the King of Gymnastics, Kohei Uchimura, 3-time consecutive world champion who made 6 of the 7 individual finals. The montage is from the All-Around final, and the woman waving the flag at the beginning is Shuko Uchimura (his Mum).

The apparatus finals have been in the daytime rather than evening. Because of the time difference between UK and Japan, it meant getting up at 5.20 a.m. on Saturday and 5.50 a.m. on Sunday. I didn’t want to miss a thing, but I had to drink lemonade (I usually don’t drink sugary fizzy juice like that) because I felt so sick from sleep deprivation. At least I could watch it wrapped in a duvet in my pyjamas though, and went back to sleep until lunchtime as soon as the finals finished! Sunday was even tougher because my friend had made a surprise visit to Edinburgh which resulted in me getting to bed at 2 a.m. after spending the night in the pub speaking a mixture of Spanish and English (long story why).

I’ve been part of a team helping put all the results and details of the last week of competition on wikipedia, so you can get the results there.

Men’s Artistic Gymnastics: Men’s All Around Final

Well. We knew it was going to be an exciting competition. We had two questions: Would Kohei Uchimura get his 3rd All Around medal to maintain his domination of Men’s gymnastics this quadrennium? And who would take Silver & Bronze?

The answer to the first question was a resounding YES.

Today, in front of a home crowd, we watched the best gymnast the world has ever seen prove just why he is exactly that. Kohei Uchimura truly showed us he is a top class champion. He dominated from the start, and even holding back on some difficulty he didn’t score below 15 all day. I would actually argue that he was underscored in a couple of rotations (particularly floor where they took away 0.9 marks for a basically flawless routine). His ending score? 93.361 He finished 3 points ahead of the silver medallist. Unbelievable. His ending high bar routine brought on a standing ovation from everyone in the arena, the applause was almost deafening and in the stands, people applauded his mother who turned and took a bow. Yes Mrs Uchimura – you did a terrific job!

It seemed like Silver was destined for Uchimura’s teammate, Koji Yamamuro. He performed consistently throughout the competition. And following in the Japanese footsteps meeting that consistency was the stalwart of British Gymnastics: Daniel Purvis. He’d lead off the first group on floor, and for the first two rotations was placing 2nd in the top group. The 2 Americans had qualifed in front of him at the weekend, but where they made mistakes Dan made none, hitting routine after routine.

After vault it became the question: who would take the Bronze? Would it be Dan Purvis bringing a medal home to Great Britain, or Philipp Boy bringing one home to Germany. We knew after Vault, Philipp had 2 strong events, where as Daniel had 2 of his weaker events. On the other hand, Philipp had not had a good week in competition suffering plenty of costly mistakes as had a few of the other German team members. We watched the gymnasts in the top group go up on the Parallel bars one by one…

Orozco (USA) had a fantastic routine bringing him back up the scoreboard. Yamamuro made some small errors. Uchimura was stunning as per usual. Philipp went up, and a couple of mistakes, and was scored very harshly. In fact, too harshly on my opinion. He was shocked at his score. And so was I. At the same time, I knew that if Dan could hit his routine, he could get a much higher score on PB to keep himself in medal contention. And he did. 15.200.

It was time for the last event. Philipp Boy knew he had to have the routine of his life…and he did. Scoring a whopping 16.066. He was elated as he stuck his landing. Dan followed with a great routine for him and scored much higher than he had done in qualifers (14.800), but it was not enough to stay ahead of Boy. Yamamuro went up choosing a less difficult routine with the hope of better execution score. He only scored 14.866, which put him behind Boy. We knew then who had one – even with a fall, Uchimura had won. And even more surprisingly, Philipp Boy had pulled off an incredible comeback to not just get the Bronze, but the SILVER medal.

Uchimura could have done half a routine and got the Gold, but he did not disappoint. Throwing several ‘Kovacs’ and other difficult moves he finished off in style.

And so it ended… Uchimura 1st, Boy 2nd, Yamamuro 3rd, Britain’s Dan Purvis in 4th and John Orozco in 5th.

But you know the best part – the great sportsmanship between the gymnasts in that top group. Throughout the competition you saw them clapping each other, shaking hands as one came off the podium and another went on, smiling and talking as they stood to get their medals. Yes, they are competitors, but they are gracious too. And that is something to be commended. :)

Tomorrow, it’s an early start as we have Day 1 of Apparatus Finals…Men’s Floor, Women’s Vault, Men’s Pommel Horse, Women’s Uneven Bars and Men’s Still Rings.

 

Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships: Women’s All Around Final

Well. We thought it couldn’t get anymore nail biting than it did yesterday, but once again it came down to the last few routines. EEK!

First of all…my star of the day award goes to Hannah Whelan. They weren’t going to pay much attention to her, and then she was at the end of the first rotation in 9th place. And then she kept creeping up in the standings to point that going into the last rotation she was in 6th place. Her last routine of the day was bars, her lowest scoring event, but she still finished in 9th. Very respectable! Hopefully she’ll stay healthy and be able to do some upgrades on Bars to be in with a chance to be in top 8 in London next summer. One thing is for sure: she did Great Britain proud today! To see her floor & vault click here (I think it will only work if you’re in the UK unfortunately).

The top 6 was where the drama was though.

The Americans both had huge vaults. Wieber pulled out the amanar, perfect but for a big step on landing. Raisman had the double twisting yurchenko, put to near perfection. It’s been said many times, but she does have many similarities in power, strength and style to her older teammate, Alicia Sacramone. The rest pulled good vaults, but from what I could tell did not come close in execution to the Americans.

Then it was onto uneven bars. The Russian star, Komova pulled out another great bars routine, though still not quite so well executed as we had seen in qualifiers, but much much better than she did in Team Final. The Chinese girls pulled out great routines. Wieber went up and made some huge mistakes and it really did cost her. Then Raisman went up. It was awful, I was yelling at my TV – I know that she, like Alicia, struggles on bars. Last year she had an awful time on Bars in AA finals. Today, she had a total meltdown again. Somehow she managed a good dismount, but she only scored 12.900. Ouch.

On to beam. Wieber had dropped from 1st to 4th. Komova went up first, and pulled a good routine having a number of wobbles – but no falls. Then Huang got up on beam – was doing well and then fell. All of a sudden, the door for an American medals opened back up. Then Afanaseva got up on beam and fell on her first move – a standing arabian. Raisman got up and performed a hit routine (she really can command that beam!) – a lot of gymnasts would have been so rattled after a performance like she’d had in the previous rotation, but her focus is such that she just moved on and fought back. Yao followed, and also had a fall. This was unbelievable – Chinese are known to be great on beam, and now both their gymnasts had fallen. Wieber got up on beam and had a near perfect routine, really just a small step on dismount putting her into 2nd place going into the last rotation…

Floor. Huang’s routine was charming but low on difficulty. Afanaseva had powerful tumbling – her first 2 passes (ending in a double straight and a triple twist) were breathtaking. She too had fought back after her fall on the beam. Aly Raisman killed it on floor hitting all her difficult passes with controlled landings and nailing her leaps and choreography. Yao hit her routine too – the precision was fabulous, the performance had the charm of her teammate, Jiang Yuyuan had in Beijing on floor. Wieber got up, and had a powerful routine, but took a step out of bounds on one of her passes. Her difficulty was high, and aside from her step out, the execution well done. But surely after the step, it would be silver?

Komova got up. Her first pass was great, but she fell out of a spin on her dance moves, and though the choreography had that Russian grace and elegance, it seemed like she was tired as she wobbled and landed deeply on some of her tumbling passes. Though improved from Team Finals, it still wasn’t going to get a good execution score. However, most of us thought it could be enough for Gold.

But when the score came – it wasn’t. Wieber had beaten her overall by a mere few 100ths of a point. Wieber burst into tears, and so did Komova. But for very different reasons. And rather than the massive cheering you’d normally hear, the arena was strangely quiet with a few audible gasps as most of them thought Komova had done enough for Gold.

For sure there is debate going on about scoring at these championships! Yesterday some suggested USA men’s team should have got Silver over Japan. Today some are saying that Wieber was overscored on floor or Komova underscored and that Komova should have got Gold over Wieber.

In the end it was Gold to Wieber, Silver to Komova and Bronze to Yao.

All I know is: Gymnastics at London 2012 is going to be one to watch. The Russians will want to get their Golds the Americans won here. Beth Tweddle will want her medal in Uneven Bars. Lauren Mitchell (who scored highest on Floor today improving her score again) will want her medal on Floor. Ana Porgras who scored high on Beam will want a medal there. Because none of them will have the chance to reclaim their world titles on those events this week despite their high scores in Team and All Around.

Tomorrow: Men’s All Around final. If the last 2 days are anything to go by – it’s gonna be dramatic!

 

Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships: Men’s Team Final

So. Twitter prevented me from tweeting anymore (who knew you had a 24-hour period tweet limit?!) and as the Men’s Team Finals overran by about 25 mins as soon as they finished I was trying to exchange pyjamas for outdoor clothes, eat lunch and get out the door to babysit a very chicken pox covered Mr Teapot so his Mum could take his big brother (now over the pox himself) to rugby tots.

Japan dominated with precision and high end routines…China started off with a few teeny errors (but nothing major) and just seemed to get stronger as the competition went on. USA started strong but weakened in the middle with form errors and a hands & knees landing on Vault from their anchor, Jon Horton. Russia were also doing well, and after those 4 teams had all competed on Vault (the highest scoring event) there was only a point between those top 4.

And so we entered the last rotation.

By this time, I was regretting having the large glass of apple and mango juice before the competition started 3 hours prior.

Because MY WORD this was nail biting.

USA suddenly made a HUGE comeback on High Bar. They really go all out and hold nothing back on that event, and man it was shades of the moment Sasha Artemev killed it on Pommel Horse in the Beijing Olympics team final.

I was cheering and clenching (I thought Leyva was going to fall at one point) and was cheering at the telly. Surely, surely – it would secure them a Bronze? But it depended on how Russia performed on Pommel Horse…

Meanwhile China were on floor. One routine I watched was filled with teeny form errors, giving Japan a chance to move back into 1st place. I knew they were up next on High Bar, and they had 2 amazing High Bar gymnasts up. The first one was stunning. I love the USA gymnasts, but they sometimes look a little bit messy though the difficulty and enthusiasm is awe inspiring (or nail biting). Then Tanaka went up, and fell. The no 1 ranked on High Bar fell. Oh. my. word. He amazingly got back on and finished his routine well.

Then China had their last man on floor and he was spectacular. Then we heard that Russia had fallen on Pommel Horse so it was pretty much for sure that USA would get the Bronze. Just before Uchimura – 2-time consecutive All-Around champion – got up to perform the final High Bar routine for Japan, we got Zou Kai’s floor score which was huge for floor.

We knew that it was pretty much impossible for Japan to win now, but then again….with Uchimura anything could happen. His routine was packed with difficulty and almost flawless execution. And then he just flew away from the bar and landed stuck on the floor. Well. No one expected that.

We thought USA would be lucky to get bronze if going into this rotation, and now, after an amazing High Bar set, and not one, but 2 falls from Japan – would it now be a silver medal?

Everyone was yelling and amazingly Uchimura composed himself and with only a few seconds to think performed the rest of his routine adding in several huge moves (including the one he’d fallen on). Aside from the fall it was spectacular, and incredibly he secured Japan’s silver. By 100th of a point.

China were delighted with Gold, Japan I think a little disappointed with Silver but happy to have stayed in 2nd and USA happy to finally be back on that Team Medal podium for the first time at Worlds since 2003.

All-in-all it was an action packed Team Final (I haven’t even mentioned how Korea were doing so well and then fell one by one, or how the Romanians had a fall on Vault earning zero near the start basically putting them in last place, or how Germany had such a rough time but Hambüchen’s High Bar was still a highlight of the day…)

I’m exhausted just remembering it all.

Tomorrow is my favourite event: the Women’s All-Around Final.