The way the Olympics (and the World Championships) used to work, each team had 7 members with 6 members performing per event and 5 scores counting. In the sport, the scores for the first few athletes are usually lower because if you give a 10.0 to the first athlete and the second athlete is better, how can you improve that score? So there is always an athlete asked to be the "tablesetter," e.g. somebody who is very consistent and usually does great routines but essentially has to sacrifice themselves and not make the all-around or event finals (you qualify for those rounds based on your scores in the team competition) because their scores will be lower. The superstars of the sport get to go in the last few spots since they are expected to rake in the medals and there is a great athlete stuck at the beginning whose routines would get much better scores if they went at the end. But somebody has to do it. For those who remember that Magnificent Seven in 1996, Jaycie Phelps went first or second on every event despite finishing second at the National Championships. They knew that Shannon Miller and the two Dominiques were the bigger draws. Obviously it paid off in spades. Sports is as much full of politics as anything else.
Posted on Sep 6, 2008, 7:39 AM from IP address 126.96.36.199