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Aly Raisman Gets Robbed of the Bronze

Labyrinthine Olympic tiebreaker rules deprive Raisman of third place

Adam Chandler
August 02, 2012
(Aly Raisman, AP)
(Aly Raisman, AP)

She vaulted and floor-exercised her way into our hearts. For a moment, she made “Hava Nagila” slightly cool. Sadly, Aly Raisman’s dreams of her own Olympic gold were dashed tonight when she finished tied for a third place with (the unbelievably not-Jewish) Aliya Mustafina of Russia in the women’s all-around individual competition.

By Olympic protocol, Raisman was not granted the bronze medal because she is Jewish did not win out in the series of determining tiebreakers. Both gymnasts were tied with a score of 59.566 points when these nutso rules went into effect:

Should there be ties in the team finals in London, the lowest apparatus score will be dropped and the remaining scores added. If that doesn’t break the tie, additional apparatus scores will be dropped, one at a time, until there is a winner. If no winner emerges, the tie stands.

There is a similar formula for the all-around final. But if no winner has emerged following the dropping of apparatus scores, the execution score total for each gymnast serve as the tie-breaker, followed by his or her total start value. If that doesn’t establish a winner, the tie will stand.

The site SB Nation broke down an explanation of the loss thusly:

So Mustafina’s lowest score (a 13.633 on the balance beam) and Raisman’s lowest score (a 14.200 on the balance beam) were both dropped, and the scores remaining were compared. Mustafina had a 45.933 after the drop, and Raisman had a 45.366; therefore, Mustafina won the tiebreaker.

What seems wrong about this is that Raisman’s lowest score was better than Mustafina’s lowest score. If this is an all-around competition, shouldn’t the standard for winning be consistency? At any rate, Mustafina may have the bronze, but she got straight up crushed by Raisman’s teammate Gabby Douglas who won the gold.

Raisman wins the gold in our hearts.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.