‘I’ll have a ready-made protest in future’ – Russian gymnast Melnikova on judging row amid claims ‘optical illusion’ cost her gold

Russian gymnastics star Angelina Melnikova says she will bounce back from controversial judging at the World Championships in Japan, as some of the media in her homeland suggested an ‘optical illusion’ deprived her of gold. Read Full Article at RT.com

‘I’ll have a ready-made protest in future’ – Russian gymnast Melnikova on judging row amid claims ‘optical illusion’ cost her gold

Russian gymnastics star Angelina Melnikova says she will bounce back from controversial judging at the World Championships in Japan, as some of the media in her homeland suggested an ‘optical illusion’ deprived her of gold.

Melnikova had to settle for silver in Sunday’s floor exercise final at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Kitakyushu.

Despite initially finishing in first place, Melnikova slipped to second after Japanese rival Mai Murakami had her score upgraded on appeal.

Initial reports suggested that the Russian team had filed an appeal of their own in protest at Melnikova’s score, but without success.

Mai Murakami (C) took gold ahead of Melnikova (L) and US bronze medalist Leanne Wong (R). © Reuters

After the controversy, Melnikova said she felt “hugely disappointed”, while Russian coach Valentina Rodionenko said gold had been “taken” from her athlete.

The Russian star was given a score of 14.000 – including 5.600 for difficulty and 8.400 for execution.

Home hero Murakami had initially been awarded 13.966, but ended up with a total of 14.066 after 0.100 was added to her score.   

The suggestion from the 21-year-old Melnikova was that judges had penalized her for the first turn in her routine – seen at around the 23-second mark in the clip below.

Apparently, the Russian star’s leg was not at a 90-degree angle as she rotated – something she has since addressed in a new Instagram message to her fans.

“About what happened on the floor routine,” said the star.

“I will describe the situation.

“I know my base [score] on the floor. After the conclusion of the assessment, I immediately went and told the coaches to file a protest.

"I cannot say for sure whether they had time to do it or not, they told me that they had time.

“But no one saw the official filing. I did not see what was happening there, as I had to sit in the camera area.”

Melnikova went on to break down the scoring, explaining why she felt hard done by and should have been awarded 0.300 more for difficulty.  

“Problem – turning with a raised leg.

“The reason – the leg is below 90 degrees.

“I have not yet encountered such a mistake in my entire 6 years of performances. Never,” added Melnikova.

“Subjective gymnastics, hello. Okay, if they didn't count it, they didn't count it. I'm a little upset about other things.

“Once again I understand that only you will fight for yourself, and until you do, no one will.

“This is my philosophy. And with such a character as mine, I will never let people offend me.  

“In general, the conclusion is this: I will never go out on floor exercises without a ready-made protest in my hands.”

Understandably, the drama has made significant headlines in Melnikova’s homeland – not least after Russian rhythmic gymnastics star Dina Averina missed out on gold to Israel’s Linoy Ashram at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer, despite Ashram dropping the ribbon during one of her routines.

READ MORE: ‘I need the truth’: Averina claims she ‘doesn’t need a gold medal’ but wants answers over Olympic judging scandal & political row

A blog in Russian outlet Sports.ru has suggested that an “optical illusion” was behind Melnikova’s scoring issues, with the notion that she should not have been marked down for what was a perfectly good element of her routine.

“Yes, Angelina stumbled on the second lap, but even at the lowest point, her heel does not seem to fall below the horizontal [line] – the error can be seen only with a strong desire [to see it],” read the blog.

In an appearance on Russian TV on Sunday, Melnikova pointed out that 25-year-old icon Murakami was retiring after the event.

“Most likely, it was a moment to find fault [with me], because for Mai Murakami it was her final event, she’s ending her career,” she said.

Despite the disappointment, the Russian star and her Japanese rival have exchanged compliments on social media, with both showing mutual respect and grace.  

Melnikova hailed Murakami as “an incredible gymnast” to her Instagram followers, while the Japanese two-time world champion and Tokyo bronze medalist wished the Russian all the best for her continued career.