Gymnastics name of moves
RIO DE JANEIRO—There is at least one award in Olympic gymnastics that’s not made of gold, silver or bronze: Anyone who nails a move for the first time in the history of the sport will leave Rio with that maneuver named in his or her honor.
One of the newest, officially sanctioned moves in gymnastics, for example, was approved by the International Gymnastics Federation last year as a “change-leg leap to free-cross split sit.” But it’s already known around the sport by the surname of its inventor—in part because that’s how she referred to the mount in an Instagram video.
“Behold, ” she wrote. “The Dick.”
Marisa Dick, a Canadian-born gymnast representing Trinidad and Tobago, may only have one day here to show off “The Dick.” She likely won’t make it out of Olympic qualifying Sunday, and Dick winning a single medal would be as stunning as three-time world champion Simone Biles not winning several. Dick finished 74th on the beam event at the most recent world championships, where she unveiled her eponymous move, and that meant she left the competition with a different prize: her name in the sport’s official Code of Points.
“It’s one of those things, ” Dick said this week, “that lives on forever in the gymnastics world.”
The only problem with The Dick is something few gymnasts encounter: It’s the rare technical element that makes fans bashful. Even a tongue-twister like “The Zamolodchikova” is easier to say in polite company. What should be one of the proudest moments of Dick’s gymnastics career instead makes people awkward.
By now, Dick has heard all the jokes. “I’ve just made it so easy for everyone, ” she said. “Especially because it’s on the beam. And I land on the split.”
Even the international governing body of gymnastics can get a little testy when it comes to The Dick. “We would like to underline that there are more spectacular new elements expected than her new move, ” an organization spokeswoman wrote in an email. “We guess last time it makes the buzz only because of her name.”
There may be more buzz soon. While training for Rio, Dick made a tweak to her infamous mount, and immediately realized what it would mean if she landed this enhanced move at the Olympics. “Oh my goodness, ” she said. “I can get another one named after me!”
She unveiled that technical element—a switch leap with a half-pirouette that lands in a split on the beam—during Olympic podium training Thursday night in near anonymity as the U.S. gymnasts practiced nearby. But it didn’t matter that most people missed it, because new moves can only be added into the sport’s Code of Points once they are performed in a sanctioned competition. And she already knows what she will call the sequel if she pulls it off in Olympic qualifying Sunday.