Gymnastics tie-break rules changed

Gymnastics tie-break rules changed

Published Jun. 19, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Nastia Liukin would have another gold medal if tie-break procedures introduced for the London Olympics were in place four years ago.

The International Gymnastics Federation announced simplified tie-break formulas Tuesday that again allow for the possibility of shared medals. In event finals, for example, the execution mark would serve as the first tie-break, followed by the difficulty score. If the gymnasts are still tied, that result will stand.

The odds of that happening are rare, with the execution mark usually enough to separate two gymnasts. In Beijing, however, Liukin and China's He Kexin both scored 16.725 in the uneven bars final, finishing with identical start values (7.7) and execution marks (9.025). Using a convoluted tie-break formula based on deductions from the execution mark, He was awarded the gold and Liukin the silver.

''It's not correct. I believe it's correct to have two gold medals,'' International Gymnastics Federation President Bruno Grandi said at the time. ''But this is my modest opinion. The IOC is different.''


Gymnastics used to give out duplicate medals at the Olympics. In a bit of irony, Liukin's father, Valeri, got one of his gold medals at the 1988 Olympics after tying teammate Vladimir Artemov on high bar. But the International Olympic Committee told the gymnastics federation to stop sharing medals after the Atlanta Games, and a tie-break system was implemented in 1997.

Should there be ties in the team finals in London, the lowest apparatus score will be dropped and the remaining scores added. If that doesn't break the tie, additional apparatus scores will be dropped, one at a time, until there is a winner. If no winner emerges, the tie stands.

There is a similar formula for the all-around final. But if no winner has emerged following the dropping of apparatus scores, the execution score total for each gymnast serve as the tie-breaker, followed by his or her total start value. If that doesn't establish a winner, the tie will stand.