Great Britain’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Team Wins Their Appeal and is Going to Participate in the 2012 London Olympics
First, I want to take a long moment to congratulate the Great Britain Rhythmic Gymnastics team on the fact that they are going to be allowed to participate at the 2012 London Olympics. GymnasticsZone.com has, from the beginning, been a supporter of their efforts to be included and we celebrate with all of them, their family and friends and fans and supporters.
They are Good Enough. They Have Scored the Score. They Have Won Internationally.
While normally receiving little national and international coverage, the Great Britain Rhythmic Gymnastics team has received considerable national and international news coverage of their plight and appeal. The assumed reason for questioning their participation, initally, was presumably that they were incapable of scoring high enough to not be an embarrassment (to who?). They did achieve the required score and have since even won an international competition.
Articles About Winning The Appeal
The FIG and International Olympic Committee Had Already Approved Their Participation
As a significant part of the Olympic movement, the host country is allowed to place teams in Olympic competition, that do not qualify through the normal channels. This is done to encourage wider fan participation (and ticket buying, I presume), build interest in all Olympic sports in the host country and allow countries to showcase all of their best athletes in every Olympic sport. Thus, as far as the International Olympic Committee and the FIG (International Federation of Gymnastics) were concerned, The Great Britain Rhythmic Gymnastics Team was already eligible to compete in the 2012 London Games.
British Gymnastics Put Up Additional Road Blocks
BG (British Gymnastics), however decided (for whatever reason), that their Rhythmic Gymnastics Team must meet the federations’s own artificial guidelines and criteria, before they would be allowed to compete. According to BG, the Rhythmic Team did not do that. The Rhythmic Team appealed the decision, won and are now allowed to participate. That much is clear, but much is still not clear.
Confusing Situation and Timeline of Events from Both Sides
Ollie Williams in his BBC Sports Blog article, brings up many time line and procedural questions about what actually happened, and who knew what, and when. All of that is completely valid for journalists to investigate, but there is an element that is missing from this entire situation, from the very beginning.
Where is the Olympic Spirit of Amateur Sports in All of This?
Unlike many of the sports now in the Olympics (where paid professionals are allowed to compete) and even in Rhythmic Gymnastics, where some of the best teams in the world receive government funding (in Great Britain, some teams do receive government and federation funding, but Rhythmic Gymnastics is not one of those). What we have here is a self-funded group of determined, dedicated athletes practicing and performing their sport because of their sheer love for their sport. That is the original spirit of the Olympic Games and amateur sport, and if that is not worthy of our support and the federations’s support, than I do not know what is.
They Should Have Been Categorically Approved from the Beginning
Great Britain (and every other country) should support the efforts of their true amateur athletes in every way possible. I do not mean to hold up the British Gymnastics federation as the sole source of this problem. In gymnastics, nearly every national gymnastics federation has expanded its membership dues-paying base by taking over more minor related sports, like rhythmic gymnastics, tumbling and trampoline, sports aerobics, etc. And many of these national federations treat these sports and athletes like second-class citizens, in terms of funding and attention.
Every Sport and Athlete Deserve the Complete Support of their Federation
I am first and foremost an artistic gymnastics fan. Almost all of my coaching experience is in artistic gymnastics and T&T. I have little to no experience with Rhythmic Gymnastics. I do watch rhythmic videos for new (for artistic gymnastics, anyway) turn ideas and flexibility concepts. But Rhythmic Gymnastics is a true Olympic sport and a true amateur sport, in most of the world, and its athletes dedicate their lives to the sport as much as the athletes in any other Olympic sport. To me, that means that they deserve the full support of their federation, which in this case, would have meant their automatic inclusion in the 2012 Olympics.
If The Sport is in the Federation, It Should Receive the Complete Support of the Federation
Every national sports federation needs to reevaluate their support of all Olympic sports under their jurisdiction and either provide them all with equal support or relinquish their authority over the sport to a federation that will. I am not advocating reducing support of other sports. I am advocating stepping up efforts to support underfunded sports that are receiving inferior support and attention.
Congratulations and Good Luck
We join amateur sports fans all over the world on congratulating the Great Britain Rhythmic Gymnastics team and British Gymnastics, in what we view as a positive resolution to this situation for all.