Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to see the Men’s Finals in the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow. I had never been to a professional gymnastic event before and didn’t quite know what to expect. As I entered the SSE Hydro, the venue where the event was being held, I was struck by the large number of people and the relative lack of security. Back in America it seems like you have to pass through metal detector after metal detector as well as submit to a bag check before you are allowed to enter. This event was a 2016 Olympic qualifying event, drawing a huge crowd, yet I was permitted to carry in my backpack without getting a second glance. I’m sure there were adequate security measures in place, but it was odd (simultaneously freeing and concerning) to not experience the American level of surveillance and suspicion.
There was still time before the event started when I arrived, so I bought some dinner from the stadium’s food vendors. I chose fish and chips over pizza, which I never would have done two months ago (I have probably eaten more fish and chips since arriving in Scotland than in the previous five years in America). I ascended to my seat, next to the other Arcadia students who came on the excursion. I don’t know any of them well, but it was nice to be around people who, while cheering for Great Britain, also really wanted the United States to do well.
The actual gymnastics are almost beyond describing. The level of physical control and strength each man displayed was mind blowing. Events would occur on multiple apparatuses at the same time, and it was hard to focus on just one. My attention would jump from the rings to the floor, back to the rings. Now over to the parallel bars. Now to the pommel horse, and over to the horizontal bar. I would catch myself holding my breath and tensing up when the U.S. or Great Britain were competing. I am still in awe of the combination of artistry and force that the gymnasts from all countries achieved.
It was fantastic to experience the energy of the crowd when it was confirmed that Great Britain came in second to Japan, moving up from the third or fourth place position they occupied most of the evening. Towards the end, the U.S. slipped down in the rankings to end up in fifth place, but they still had some great performances overall. I had a wonderful time and can’t wait to see these men compete for the gold in Rio.