A 10 Won't Win Gym Gold in Beijing

New system eliminates 'perfect score' ceiling in gymnastics
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2008 5:40 AM CDT
Gymnast Alicia Sacramone competes in the balance beam during the final day of competition at the USA Gymnastics Olympic selection camp Saturday, July 19, 2008 in New Waverly, Texas.    (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – When gymnasts take to the vault and the uneven bars at this summer's Olympics, viewers will notice a major change to the scoring: the perfect 10 has been eliminated. For the first time at the Games, gymnastics will be assessed on a scale with no ceiling, with gold medalists expected to receive a mark of 17. The new, supposedly fairer system has divided the sport, reports the New York Times.

Gymnasts will be scrutinized by two sets of judges, one judging difficulty, the other artistry. Paul Hamm, whose gold medal in Athens was in doubt during two months of arbitration, praised the new system, which "separates the good gymnasts from the really, really good gymnasts." But Bela Karolyi, who coached Mary Lou Retton to a perfect 10 at the Los Angeles Games, called it "crazy, terrible, the stupidest thing that ever happened to the sport of gymnastics."