Aly Raisman was Robbed of a Bronze Medal: Why Gymnastics Scoring is Flawed

Aly Raisman of the US deserves the bronze medal for the women’s gymnastics all-around event.  After the scores were recorded from all four apparatus, Aly was tied with Aliya Mustafina of Russia.  The tie-breaker for this competition makes no sense.  The lowest score for each gymnast is dropped and then the total score over three (possibly different) events is compared.  This rule will often lead to the gymnast with a higher standard deviation in scores across apparatus winning the tie-breaker.

The competition is to determine which gymnast is better overall.  Holding constant the mean performance, the gymnast with the lower standard deviation in scores is the most consistent across apparatus.  That certainly sounds to me like a way to identify the better all-around gymnast.  On Thursday in London, Aly was a better all-around gymnast than Mustafina.  Aly’s standard deviation in scores across apparatus was 0.68 compared to Mustafina’s 0.90.

The International Gymnastics Federation and the International Olympic Committee should change the tie-breaker for future all-around events.  Even that won’t help Aly Raisman who was robbed of a bronze medal.  I hope the IOC comes to its senses and awards her the medal she deserves, but I am afraid that is unlikely to occur.


  1. Frankly normally the rules would help Aly. Raisman is terrible on bars. Her 14.3 even according to Tim Daggott was too high…She is pretty much a 3 event gymanst so in a normal situation when she hits all her routines she’d benefit by throwing the low score out (bars)

    Mustafina is different she really is a four event gymnast. She has one high scoring event bars. But hey Raisman has one high scoring event vault 16.1 But there’s a sharp contrast there. While Mustafina does not have an Amanar she has a very nice Double Twisting yurchenko that scores well) She also went ahead and hit her floor routine with a very good score.. She just once again there doesn’t have the difficulty Rasiman has.

    Still though you had one gymnast who hit 2 good events and had 2 bad routines. (Yes Aly I’m looking at you) You have another gymnast who had one excellent event, 2 very well executed routines. Mustafina’s makes sense to me.

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