The No. 1 Gymnastics Podcast in the Galaxy

278: 2000 Sydney All-Around Final (Commissioned)



This week’s episode is commissioned by Club Gym Nerd member Courtney, who commissioned an episode all about the Sydney women’s all-around final saying simply, “Because I know the gymternet has feelings.” We sure do. Thanks for letting us do this, Courtney!


  • Russia drama! (Because of course.) Produnova is pulled from the final in favor of Zamolodchikova. Jessica doesn’t have feelings about it at all. 
  • Watch along with us here competition video
  • NBC’s fluff and obsession with father figures and male influence. (See: The Fluff Cast.)
  • The vault is probably fine.

This trash competition

  • Why the meet was cursed right from the start.
  • Several minutes discussing Kristen Maloney’s shiny silver leotard, because of deep and important thoughts.
  • Elise Ray’s SCARIEST vault warmup of all time.
  • Why did some people struggle with the low vault and others not? We have theories.
  • KHORKINA and the difference between artistry, elegance, carriage, and actual execution.
  • Maria Olaru, how she’s basically treated like garbage, and NBC’s super inappropriate comments.
  • Jessica and Spencer disagree about a certain vault and whether it’s hideous or not.
  • The improvement in Chinese floor routines from 1996 to 2000.
  • Elise Ray doing all three Rays in one bars routine.
  • Why Viktoria Karpenko is one of the greatest gymnasts ever to live.

The vault

  • Extensive feelings about what SHOULD have happened when the problem on vault was discovered, and why what actually happened was very, very wrong.
    • Should the entire meet have been redone?
    • Should everyone have been made to vault again?
    • How do we account for people making other mistakes after vault?
  • Are there any actual, better rules in place should this situation happen again?
  • Khorkina’s post-vault bars routine and whether the vault issue made her fall on bars.
  • One woman with the scariest job in the entire world.

The meet continues

  • Yang Yun’s beautiful foot-ography and a very rare, very special Spencer Rage-o-Meter about Al’s racist floor music comments.
  • Everyone who’s leading has to collapse Part 7: Yelena Zamolodchikova.
  • The most bizarre score of the entire meet (spoiler alert: it’s a Romanian bars routine).
  • Everyone who’s leading has to collapse Part 8: Viktoria Karpenko.
  • Al rooting for Lisa Skinner to chuck a dangerous vault she’s never done before.
  • Andreea Raducan’s glory rising to the top above this trash heap.

The aftermath

  • Andreea Raducan stripped of her medal for testing positive for a substance found in cough medicine that is no longer even banned.
  • Whether we recognize the stripping of Raducan’s medal. (We don’t).
  • In 2010, Dong Fangxiao was found to have been underage and her results nullified.
  • The ridiculous inconsistency in the application of age rules.

The big question

  • If the vault had been set correctly, who would have been on the podium?


  • This episode is brought to you by Hello Fresh! Visit and use promo code “Gymcastic30” to save $30 off your first week of deliveries.


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6 years ago

Sydney 🙁

The field was so great. Looking back, I honestly don’t even know who I would want to win had everyone hit. I say Lobaznyuk because she was so stylish and charming..but then ohhh Karpenko. But hey, diva Khorkina? Raducan? Zamo? Olaru doesn’t even seem that bad anymore by today’s standards. YANG YUN (!). Sydney had so much potential and such beautiful gymnastics. We were spoiled and we didn’t even know it.

This is one of my favorite videos from Sydney. I love that Lobaznyuk’s Arabian lands perfectly to Raducan’s music:

Why can’t we have nice things anymore?!

Billy Bigpaws
Billy Bigpaws
6 years ago

In Sydney there was a gala event scheduled at the end of the competition which could have been used for a rerun of the AA. Would it have mattered if it came after EFs? The main sticking point would have been theneed to refund ticket sales to thousands of attenders and even more problematic renegotiate TV rights and scheduling which no doubt had been arranged to take into account other blue riband events in leading Olympic sports. There was no streaming in those days so this would not have been simple.
This competition was tragic for so many people – Produnova undoubtedly had a severe foot injury. I know Arkayev was disappointed when she withdrew as Zamolodchikova did not have even the reliability of Produnova.
You mentioned Zamo’s fast twitch and it certainly was a characteristic of her gymnastics but especially noteable on beam at this time. I have a theory. Zamo’s reliability on beam was poor but improved during this Olympic year. It was almost as though she were performing a bar routine on the beam, employing swing and constant movement to overcome her problem with stability on this piece and keep things moving. It may have been a technique she found useful. Of course by the following year in Ghent her left foot was black and blue and she could barely walk on the beam … she and her coach begged Arkayev to be allowed to miss BB in team finals but she was forced to go. She never managed to regain her incredible strength after this.

Well, back to Sydney, it is doubly tragic that the field was so deep here but we never saw all those gymnasts compete at full strength. Even Raducan was robbed of her mitigates win by that awful doping problem. How many dreams were shattered at this competition which should have been Russia’s finest hour, but ended up as a travesty and a joke. Hey ho we still have Produnova’s and Khorkina’s floors from TF to remember; I understand the liking for Katpenko but I found her rather dour and poor in expression; this does not negate her technical ability but in 2000 gymnastics still held artistry in all its dimensions as important.. nevertheless I do agree that on a good day she could have had the win.

6 years ago

Hey! I love you guys and this podcast. Thank you for all you do for the gymternet. You are awesome. I just had one thing to say re: Maria Olaru and her Hepatitis B. While HIPPA is totally a thing and maybe she or a representative for her should have been consulted, I don\’t think mentioning it was as egregious as you thought it was… it could have just been the way it was presented.
From WHO (world Heath organization) :
\”In highly endemic areas, hepatitis B is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth (perinatal transmission), or through horizontal transmission (exposure to infected blood), especially from an infected child to an uninfected child during the first 5 years of life. The development of chronic infection is very common in infants infected from their mothers or before the age of 5 years.
Hepatitis B is also spread by percutaneous or mucosal exposure to infected blood and various body fluids, as well as through saliva, menstrual, vaginal, and seminal fluids. Sexual transmission of hepatitis B may occur, particularly in unvaccinated men who have sex with men and heterosexual persons with multiple sex partners or contact with sex workers. Infection in adulthood leads to chronic hepatitis in less than 5% of cases. Transmission of the virus may also occur through the reuse of needles and syringes either in health-care settings or among persons who inject drugs. In addition, infection can occur during medical, surgical and dental procedures, through tattooing, or through the use of razors and similar objects that are contaminated with infected blood.\”

It is very likely that because she\’s Romanian they might not have had the vaccine which most (US) children are given in their first years of life. As such, she could have had a chronic condition which she worked through throughout her life. Though I\’m loathe to ever stand up for Al \”I belong in a dumpster fire\” Trautwig; I think he may just really suck at communicating pertinent information in the time allotted for commentators to talk since he basically sucks at life.

6 years ago

I’ve been waiting for this for so long. Can’t wait for 2000 US trials, someone please comission it.

6 years ago

I wish you guys would make nice with Al Troutwig, or at least don’t call him “dipshit” in the podcast. In this particular “dipshit” discussion, you said that that you argued the gymnast probably didn’t care less about what she was wearing. But that doesn’t seem like an accurate statement.. I’ve heard gymnast talk about how much they love wearing their leos. I just don’t see what the big deal is about Al Troutwig’s statement.

You guys critique the leos a lot. (BTW, I LOVE the Japanese splatter paint leo. 🙂 ) All he commented on was that it wasn’t her country’s colors in the Olympics. If you’re going to critique leos, then I don’t think you should get so mad that others do it as well.

6 years ago

I’m so confused. Why did you only talk about Elise Ray for the US team the entire time? Not even a mention of Jamie or Tasha? And no real gymnastics talk about the others. Was that intentional?

6 years ago

Lots of great stuff in this podcast, but on a few points – are you kidding me?

1. I think it\’s a little nonsensical that it\’s implied NBC ignored the fact that there could be something wrong with the vault when you are perfectly aware that NBC is broadcasting tape delayed and acting as if it\’s happening live.

2. Raducan\’s choreography on floor looked like an aerobics routine. Olaru\’s choreography was far more interesting and the alleged \’funkiness\’ totally fit the character of the music.

3. The break on Chow\’s full was certainly MORE than a 0.1 deduction even under that COP.

4. Ray\’s plan was not to vault two Yurchenko 1 1/2s. She did in fact flash #s for both a DTY and 1 1/2.

5. Bonus SHAME for neglecting to mention that Olaru did the actual INTERGALACTIC CHAMPION SHANNON MILLER\’S skill on bars! (the cast 1 1/2)

As for how to correct the vault situation, I would have let gymnasts repeat vault and redo any events post-vault (but not any AFTER they had been informed of the situation). I would let them keep the better of the two scores, which I think would level some of the playing field / reduce some of the \’how much did vault affect them\’ factor.

6 years ago

Anika Reeders injury was on the board going into vault and not the vault itself.

6 years ago

Khorkina would have Won. You can see with both the beam/FX scores that the judges wanted to give it too here.

Not that she wouldn’t have deserved it if she had hit all 4.

HA Spell correct wanted to say Kevorkian

6 years ago

Another great recap! I still can’t believe 17 years later that the officials didn’t measure an apparatus correctly at the Olympics. I’m amazed there weren’t a zillion lawsuits as a result.

As for the floor exercise mat, the biggest complaint was that the mat in the warm-up gym was very bouncy and not nearly as hard and slippery as the one in the arena, so some gymnasts had difficulty adjusting between the two. Did Zamo and Karpenko both screw up their tumbling passes in the same corner of the floor? Given what just happened in Montreal I can’t help but wonder if there was something odd about the springs in that spot…

I agree with Jessica that Sveta was definitely affected by what happened on the vault, and likely made her lose concentration on the bars. Unlike the other gymnasts who were conditioned to suppress their emotions (which I don’t agree with, but I digress) Sveta always wore her emotions on her sleeve, which made her fascinating to watch. She nailed the Ricna release in prelims and event finals so I tend to think she would’ve had at least a strong chance of hitting it if she thought she still had a chance.

Poor Elise – I doubt she was a serious medal contender, but to start off the meet with such a disaster had to be devastating to her. She actually got penalized .5 for repeating the same vault, and another .5 for not posting the correct vault number for her 2nd vault (when she attempted the DTY but only managed the 1 1/2 again). At least she got to vault again. To answer your question they did have a fifth rotation for the vaulters who opted to vault again.

Imagine if Raducan had taken the pill during the team final! Then would they DQ the whole team like they did with China, or just strip Raducan’s scores and see where Romania ended up? Probably the latter, since the problem with China is they only used four gymnasts on beam and vault, so throwing out Dong’s scores pretty much plunged China to last place.

6 years ago
Reply to  Musicman

On floor – from what it looks like on the broadcast, yes, Zamolodchikova and Karpenko did fall in the same corner, although, as Spencer and Jessica noted, in Karpenko’s situation, she appeared to land just fine and caught her toe as she was stepping out of her tumbling pass, so maybe it was just a coincidence?

On Ray – were there other penalties, too? Her average, according to NBC, was 7.618, so with her first vault score of 8.725, her second vault would have only scored around 6.5. Or were the penalties applied differently? Would they have been deducted from her average, instead of just the one vault? That looks like the easiest way of reaching her score with the penalties you’ve described.

On Raducan – Interestingly, if she had taken that pill during the team event, we never would have found out about it! In her book, “The Other Side of the Medal,” she mentions, after Romania won the gold medal, only one gymnast had to be drug tested, and Amanar was the one who was (randomly) chosen.

6 years ago
Reply to  Casandra

Yes, I’m pretty sure they applied it to Ray’s total average. She likely got a 8.512 on her second vault which would have been an average of 8.618, but with the two .5 neutral deductions it was lowered to a 7.618. Fortunately she vaulted again for a 9.487 if I remember correctly.

That’s an interesting tidbit about Raducan. Such a shame that the two women who were expected to vie for the gold medal were both deprived – one because of a cold tablet, the other because of the vault height controversy.

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