Dvora Meyers’ striking and fascinating introduction “The Ending of the Perfect 10” lands just in time for the this year’s Olympics. The 33-year old Brooklynite and former gymnast became obsessed with the sport when she was 6. Gymnastics and breakdancing were unlikely pastimes for a nerdy Orthodox Jewish girl, for driving her to practice, maybe she dedicates the novel to her mom. That commitment paid off, not with medals but with a winning narrative about girls like her, who were empowered by sports.
Meyers, who covered the Olympics for Deadspin and Jezebel, investigates the critical time after Nadia Comaneci was the first to receive a perfect 10, the postmodern gymnastics world, and this alters international landscape is ’sed by the sport. In the post-Comaneci the girls’s sport, age is focused on perfection and artwork, and more on strength and athleticism.
The first of its type, “The Ending of the Perfect 10â³ contextualizes Olympic gymnastics, taking it beyond the marginalized group of “girls’s sport” to its deeper political relevance.
Salon and Meyers talked about she fell in love with the sport and how women have shaped gymnastics.
There serious analytic coverage on it, though gymnastics is one of the most famous Olympic sports. Why?
I’ve frequently wondered why it’sn’t been taken. I believe because of all it’s an Olympic sport, so it does n’t have cycle and this yearly season. It’s something you pay attention to every four years. So most sports folks and writers may have just a passing knowledge.
I believe what ends up happening is that you recycle the exact same narratives of who’s huge this year, who’s the new champ. It’s occasionally difficult for folks to get past that if they’re simply paying attention to the sport once every four years, or even just once annually during a major contest, as opposed to actually following it carefully the means other sports, like soccer and baseball, are followed through the entire year.
I ‘d say that to some level, it’s a sport identified mostly with girls. Because of this, at least that gets trivialized. Add the fact the primary professionals of gymnastics are another group which will not get taken seriously, quite young girls.
How does this shape the story of gymnastics?
It definitely shapes the story in that it’s viewed as an Olympic sport. Before this year, when the UCLA gymnast Sophina DeJesus’s flooring routine went viral, nearly all the posts about her stressed whether or not she’d needed to go to the Olympics, although the NCAA has been around for an extremely very long time, and it’s its own contests, set of rules, and precedence. It’s a headscratcher, because they actually do n’t have to do with one another, because people usually comprehend gymnastics through the prism of the Olympics but that’s.
What effect did altering the scoring system have on the sport?
One of many difficulties of the 10 is that frequently, due to the standard urge to push borders, sportsmen took hazards that are higher than they needed to, and weren’t being rewarded for it. The scoring strategy is catching up to what athletes are doing. It’s interesting because if you look in 1976 at Nadia, and Olga Korbut in ’72, in many regards the rules lagged behind the sportsmen. It was the sportsmen driving the rules forwards.
With the new scoring system, lots of folks believe that instead of the sportsmen putting pressure on the rules to alter, and the creative impulsive coming out of the athletes and the trainers, it’s the rules putting pressure on the athletes to see that kind of flip.
Nadia did more than she needed to do, surely, to win. There were few demands when she was competing. There was this feeling that if you could do a little more, you should, because it’ll get you stand out. She went for it anyhow, although she didn’t have to. In that respect, her trainers and she were shoving on the sport. They’d caught up to whatever the rules were and they went beyond that point.
There’s this instinct in high level sportsmen to push the envelope as much as they are able to.
Do you believe gymnasts will reach a limit to what the body can do?
I do believe there’s a limit. Will we see more hard dismounts off the balance beam? One Olympic gymnast said to me, “ if you made the balance beam somewhat broader you could start off of it with more power I think.” Some changes will depend on if there are any improvements to the gear, and there have been lots of developments over the years: springs in the balance beam, springs in the floor.
Many of the progress in abilities have come from a better comprehension of injury prevention and training techniques — though we have lots of harm. You’d find some increases in issues if there are more developments in training processes.
Something I took away from talking with Simone Biles is, even though she’s exceptional since she can do these mind blowing abilities, lots of gymnasts do things in their own health clubs they’re never going to compete with. I hesitate to say because I understand that in training bases gymnasts are experimenting with more challenging abilities we’re at the border.
Can gymnastics be appreciated only at an aesthetic level?
There are distinct degrees of enjoyment. I do believe lots of folks are fascinated by gymnastics and are interested to understand coverage, which isn’t geared for that kind of evaluation, although I’d never say that it couldn’t.
That makes sense. As a former gymnast, I wonder if I’m losing the actual meaning of the routines since I don’t understand what it takes to do these tricks.
This is something I thought about because I’ve constantly wondered why some sports are more relatable than others. Gymnastics is one of those sports that’s not especially relatable to the common observer. With other sports, the difference between me to the professional is an issue of level.
But most folks have not done flips. So it’s not a matter of level that distinguishes the audience — it’s on a whole different airplane. That’s what makes it hard for the ordinary audience to comprehend. When we see other sports that are popular, they integrate moves we do.
A low level participant of gymnastics who understands fathom what that upper level looks like; we all fight to comprehend that ca be still n’ted by a lot. There’s a component of the metaphysical — and the want to fly.
What appeals to me is that want, most of us never do it, and to break the shackles of gravitation. Most of us never get close.