MONTREAL, Canada—Bart Deurloo, the Dutch gymnast who was almost knocked out earlier this week by a fall from the high bar, is the hero of the 2017 world championships. He was the final gymnast to compete on the floor exercise during the last rotation (of six) of the men’s fourth preliminary subdivision. Deurloo fell during his routine, and after he was done, he alerted his coach to the possibility that there was a dead spot on the floor. The coach alerted the FIG, who then investigated Deurloo’s claim:
Officials found that Deurloo was correct: there was a dead spot in the floor. They offered all of the gymnasts who competed in subdivision four the opportunity to redo their floor routines. One of the gymnasts who got a redo ended up bumping Tomas Gonzales of Chile out of the floor final. Deurloo, however, didn’t take FIG up on the offer. He said he didn’t want to risk his already painful and sore ankle on a redo when he has high bar finals on Sunday to look forward to. (Despite the scary fall he took earlier this week on high bar, Deurloo competed very well today and made the finals on the event.)
Here he is talking about the broken floor.
Today is not the first time that FIG has had to offer athletes the opportunity to redo a performance due to an equipment malfunction. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney during the women’s all-around final, the vault height was set too low before Allana Slater, an Australian gymnast, told officials that something was wrong. By then, half of the women’s field had vaulted. Many of the gymnasts had fallen. Elise Ray of the U.S. missed her hands in the warm-ups on the incorrectly set vault. Fortunately, she wasn’t injured. Her competition vaults were marginally better, but she still fell.
Annika Reeder of Great Britain fell and injured herself. That vault in the Olympic all-around final was the final piece of competitive gymnastics she ever did.
Pre-meet favorite Svetlana Khorkina also fell victim to the improperly set vault. She crashed both of her vaults to her knees.
After the mistake was discovered and the vault was raised, the gymnasts who had vaulted on the incorrectly set vault were given the option of a do-over. While some took the opportunity to improve their overall standings, Khorkina refused to vault again. After her crash on vault, she went to the uneven bars, the event on which she was the defending world and Olympic champion, and fell. That performance was, no doubt, affected by her belief that her all-around chances were entirely dashed. She didn’t yet know about the incorrectly set vault, and what happened there affected her focus on her next apparatus.
The Sydney vault debacle essentially trashed the all-around rankings at the marquee event of women’s gymnastics. It was a genuine clusterfuck.
Aside from Sydney, the other most famous equipment failure in gymnastics took place in 1975, when the bars collapsed as Soviet Olympic champion Ludmilla Tourischeva dismounted from them. Tourischeva stuck the landing and didn’t even bother glancing behind her at the wreckage as meet officials scrambled to fix them.
It’s only the second day of the 2017 world championships and so far we’ve had an injury that eliminated the pre-meet favorite, one gymnast carried off the floor on a stretcher, a few more unable to finish their competitions due to injury, and a broken floor. I think every gymnast here deserves a medal for surviving the competition.