Olympic Gymnastics: 'Near Perfect' vs Perfect 10

Mon Aug 08, 2016 20:21:58PM | Categories: Gymnastics
Gymnast Simone Biles practicing on the bars for qualification rounds at 2016 Rio Olympics.By: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

In 2006, the Olympic committee changed the way Gymnastic events were scored. And with that change, they basically drew a line in the history books, making it virtually impossible to compare any future performance with it's historical counterpart.

It used to be so easy. The Perfect 10 was the aim of the game. 10.0. Simple. And it was thought to be impossible to achieve for a long time, until Nadia Comaneci first did it in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. And then she went on to do it another 6 times in the same Olympics. Since then, only a handful of athletes were able to achieve the Perfect 10.

Olympics started to experience issues with the scoring format however. Not to delve into the specifics too much (here's a great breakdown, if interested) but basically, athletes that attempted tougher routines and didn't do as well with it as the athletes that did simpler ones with more precision, were penalized with lower scores. So the Perfect 10 aim started to make the athletes push less boundaries, to instead go for the easier, more perfect-able routines. Couple that with the problem of way too close score numbers being turned in for competition, down to exacting fractions (like a lot of 9.79's,9.87's, etc), and all that leads to the committee dreaming up another way to score these events.

Out goes the Perfect 10 feat, and in comes the Code of Points system, in 2006. Basically they changed things so that 10.0 is no longer the highest single score you can get, and instead opted for a 2-way scoring system, to add together. Now athletes can score as high as 10.0 in one category, the execution or E part of the code. And as high as 6.5+ for the second category, the D category, standing for degree of difficulty. (Rarely do you see a D score above 6.5, but it is in a sense limitless theoretically.)

So the new 10.0 standard to aim for has essentially been changed ~16.5. But it's not really the same. In truth, it's better because it forces the best athletes to push themselves the hardest, to try the most difficult routines, and to pull them off as close to perfection as possible.

The world of skating has been doing this for decades, and I honestly wish they would have just thought this up from jump. But they did not. So now we will forever have to eye ball test who we actually think was closer to perfection: Nadia Comaneci's Perfect 10, or arguably the best gymnast to ever live, Simone Biles, who just turned in a 'near perfect' Vault score of 16.2 in the Rio qualifier.



Which perfect/near perfect score do you think tells the better story, of the better athlete? Obviously they are both once-in-a-generation talents. But no doubt the higher scoring standards change over the years helped produce the likes of Biles. And makes me wonder what Nadia would have turned in, if they had competed in the same year's Olympics.


Enjoy the talent either way:

Rio Olympics - Full Gymnastics Schedule of Events (with replay links for all)

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