Sunday 8 July 2012

Sunday Surprise

Brazilian madness

What a week it has been for Brazilian Gymnastics and what an extraordinary outcome. I am absolutely blown away by the fact that my favourite Brazilian gymnast, Jade Barbosa, is not going to be competing at the games over a team uniform technicality.

Earlier this year at the London 2012 Test Event in January I was absolutely over the moon when Brazil took the final full team place for the Olympic Games. With three fantastic gymnasts in Brazil (Jade Barbosa, Daniele Matias Hypolito and Daiane dos Santos) I was thrilled that they would all be able to compete at the games rather than just one of them having to be picked over the other two. So imagine my shock and disappointment when I heard that Jade Barbosa was out of the team.

The dispute started initially with Jade refusing to sign the contract to wear the team uniform as it clashed with her individual sponsorship obligations. I can imagine that would have been a very difficult decision to make in the first place, but sponsorship is incredibly important to a lot of gymnasts. Because of this initial dispute, Jade did not turn up to the team's training session and was reported to be very upset. After a few days, Jade decided to sign the forms anyway but unfortunately for her it was deemed to be too late. Because she had missed several of the team's training and preparation sessions she had not been part of the selection criteria and would therefore not be considered for the team.

While I can understand both sides of the argument, it seems ridiculous that one of the stars of Brazilian gymnastics and a contender for a medal on vault has been left off the team for any reason. The fact that Jade backed down and agreed to sign the forms despite compromising her own sponsorship obligations surely shows her commitment to the team. It seems such a shame that the team, her country and us as spectators will be denied the delights of Jade Barbosa this summer.

Jade has proved herself to be an important and successful member of the Brazilian team since she turned senior in 2007. In the 2007 World Championships she helped the team to a 5th place finish as well as taking the bronze medal in the all around final. She also qualified to the vault and beam finals. In the 2008 Olympics she helped the team qualify to the Team Finals where they came 8th. She also qualified individually to the all around and vault finals. After injury in 2009 Jade came back on to the international scene at the 2010 World Championships where she qualified for the all around and vault finals again, this time taking a bronze medal on the vault. In the 2011 World Championships Brazil missed out on qualifying a full team for the Olympics but competed at the 2012 London Test Event where they took the final team spot and Jade took individual Gold on vault. With such success behind her I still find it very hard to understand why they could not find a way to accommodate her on the team.

Jade is a beautiful gymnast to watch and I will really miss her at the Olympic Games this summer. Her powerful vaulting is what she is best known for but when she is on form she is capable of some great performances on the other apparatus. I love her style on floor and particularly enjoyed her performance earlier this year at the London Test Event:

With two excellent floor workers in Daiane dos Santos and Daniele Hypolito though, it would not be on this piece that the team would really need her. The same cannot be said for vault however, a piece where she would have been of great use to the team and a potential finalist and medallist individually. I hope we see more of Jade in the future as I really will miss this wonderful gymnast.


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