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Five questions with Tim Daggett

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  July 31, 2012 10:49 AM

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LONDON -- Checking in with the West Springfield native, 1984 Olympic gold medalist, and NBC commentator for his thoughts on the compelling twists during the gymnastics competitions so far as well as what might happen during Tuesday's women's team final:

1. A quick question on the men's team competition Monday before we look ahead to the women's team event Tuesday. How surprising was it to you to see the judges adjust the scores, which gave Japan a silver when initial scoring indicated it wouldn't be on the podium?

Daggett: It was surprising, but really what it comes down is that those are the rules. Every coach on the floor was prepared to file an inquiry and they can only do that if they believe the difficulty score is incorrect. When they saw what he got for a difficulty score, they filed an inquiry right away. That's not atypical. What is atypical is for it to be granted. It was really the worst-case scenario [with so much at stake, it the apparent gold-medal team's host country] because the meet was over. It was on the last guy in the meet's routine. The meet's over, it's on the scoreboard, I don't know, five minutes or whatever.

2. Aly Raisman is an accomplished gymnast, is the captain of this team, and yet she had been in the background compared to teammates Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber until she made the women's all-around. What can we expect from her Tuesday in the team competition and Thursday in the all-around?

Daggett: I think you can expect the exact same thing she did on the qualifying day. That is what Aly does over and over and over again. Aly Raisman is one of those athletes that has that innate ability to take every extraneous thought or crowd or television cameras and just put them out of her mind. She doesn't see them, hear them, smell them, anything. She just goes out and does her job. Really, it's a very unusual quality to the level that she's able to do this. I'd be very surprised if she wasn't able to perform well in everything she's in.

3. Does Jordyn Wieber have that attribute in common with her? Obviously she is coming off tremendous disappointment after failing to earn one of the two US spots in the all-around.

Daggett: You know, my guess is that she's going to come out like gangbusters. She's about as tough as they come as well. She's cut from the same cloth as Aly, absolutely fierce. I would call Aly calm and I would call Jordyn fierce. The pressure doesn't get to her, but that said, this is a very big thing to overcome. Because, let's face it, if you are a little girl gymnast who has the dream to go to the Olympic Games, you do what it takes to get there, which is amazingly long, hard training and an incredible amount of discipline to follow that dream of being the Olympic all-around champion. That's the crown jewel of the sport, and she doesn't get a chance to show that she can be competitive in that field. It's devastating, but my guess is that she's somehow going to find a way to put that behind her.

4. You mention Aly being calm and Jordyn being fierce. As someone who has been involved in the sport your entire life and knows first-hand what it takes mentally to win a gold medal on this stage, is one of those character traits better to have than the other under these incredibly pressurized circumstances?

Daggett: Well, I think they both have all of those qualities, but it's just a little more pronounced with the fierceness in Jordyn, but she is also able to be calm and poised like Aly is. That's my way of saying I'm not sure which one is better [laughs], but they both have those qualities, and they are both necessary.

5. All right, I'm going to put you on the spot. Does the US win its first team gold since the Magnificent 7 in 1996?

Daggett: It's really, really possible. Does that count? As we saw with the US men, they qualified in with the highest score and had some really disastrous performances, and that went away very, very quickly. If the US does what they are capable of doing, my guess is that they're going to be able to win this championship. But you cannot count out, ever, the Russians, the Romanians, and the Chinese as well.

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