(Reuters) – The grading given to American Simone Biles’ new balance beam dismount has drawn criticism from USA Gymnastics but the sport’s governing body said protecting athletes played a critical role in the decision ahead of this month’s world championships.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Biles was not happy with the ‘H’ difficulty value the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) gave the element and believes it should have been higher.
The American made the double-double dismount – two flips and two twists – for the first time at the U.S. championships in August. If she repeats the historic feat at the worlds in Stuttgart, it will bear her name in the sport’s Code of Points.
The ‘H’ rating is one value higher than any other women’s beam element in the Code, but Biles feels the extra difficulty is enough to merit an even higher rating.
The 22-year-old described the FIG decision with an expletive in a tweet https://twitter.com/Simone_Biles/status/1179122044887285764 on Tuesday.
“There is added risk in landing of double saltos for beam dismounts (with/without twists), including a potential landing on the neck,” the FIG said in a statement on Friday https://live.gymnastics.sport/news_display.php?idevent=14274&idnews=2680&keyword=.
“Reinforcing, there are many examples in the Code where decisions have been made to protect the gymnasts and preserve the direction of the discipline.”
USA Gymnastics is unhappy with the grading given to the dismount, and wants the FIG to do more to support Biles’ contributions to the sport.
“USA Gymnastics respectfully disagrees with the value assigned to the balance beam dismount… that was submitted on behalf of Simone Biles,” the national body said in a statement https://twitter.com/USAGym/status/1180204257905184770.
“The safety of athletes is always a top priority for us and the sport in general, however we believe skill should be given the value that it merits.
“Simone is an amazing gymnast who continues to develop and challenge the norm with creative and technical ability and skill, and we applaud and support her efforts.”
Biles, who has won 20 world medals, will begin her campaign at the worlds in the qualification rounds on Saturday.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)