Why Can't Gymnasts Touch The Beam? Simone Biles' Wobble Cost Her The Gold
While winning her fourth medal during the 2016 Rio Olympics, Simone Biles put her hands on the balance beam. That doesn't sound like a big deal, right? But unfortunately, it led to a deduction that ultimately landed her the bronze medal instead of the gold. Gymnasts are allowed to touch the beam to perform handstands, handsprings, or other parts of their routine, but the moment they touch the beam with their hands in order to prevent themselves from falling off, it's points off.
According to The Gymternet, if a gymnasts falls on a beam or onto her hands, putting her weight on them to avoid falling off, that's a full point deducted from the score. If "she’s wobbling and her hands touch the beam but she doesn’t grab on," it's three-tenths of a point off. When Biles wobbled Monday while competing for the individual event for balance beam, she did the former — fully putting her hands on the beam to steady herself.
Even with the wobble, Biles still received a bronze medal with a score of 14.733, well below what she earned in the qualifying round. Team USA's Laurie Hernandez scored the silver medal with a 15.333, while the Netherlands' Sanne Wever took home the gold at 15.466.
In the qualifying rounds, Aly Raisman also had a wobble that could have left her out of the individual all-around competition. Unlike Biles, though, she managed to keep her balance without ever putting her hands on the beam. "I wasn’t sure what I would score," Raisman said, according to The Wall Street Journal. "I didn’t touch the beam or anything... I didn’t move the rest of the routine." That save meant she went on to the all-around competition, edging out 2012 champion of the event, her teammate Gabby Douglas.
It makes sense that there would be deductions for holding yourself up. It is, after all, called the balance beam. The apparatus is only four inches wide and four feet off the ground, so staying on top while performing acrobatic flips and twists is a true feat. Although anything you do outside of balancing during the routine is an understandable deduction, these gymnasts — including Biles — show us time and time again why they're considered world champs.