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The End of the Perfect 10: The Making and Breaking of Gymnastics' Top Score—from Nadia to Now
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The End of the Perfect 10: The Making and Breaking of Gymnastics' Top Score—from Nadia to Now

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  621 ratings  ·  109 reviews
A delightful and insightful (The Wall Street Journal) account of the controversial world of gymnastics and its scoring system, which has propelled powerful and athletic American gymnasts to the top of the sport.

It was the team finals of womens gymnastics in the 2012 London Olympics and McKayla Maroney was on top of her game. The sixteen-year-old US gymnast was performing
ebook, 336 pages
Published July 5th 2016 by Atria Books (first published July 2016)
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Lauren Hopkins
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I first met Dvora Meyers at a sidewalk café in Soho on a hot June evening in 2012, shortly after USA Gymnastics announced that they would not allow Chellsie Memmel to compete at nationals based on her lack of preparedness. As both reporters and extreme gym fans, we met to discuss this whole situation, and ended up talking for four hours, shutting the place down at two in the morning. Since then we've been good friends. I've been aware of this book since she first pitched it, am quoted in it, and ...more
Aside from the obnoxious repetitiveness, this was a really fascinating look at the way scoring in gymnastics has shifted and changed and the impact that's had on everything from who the world powerhouses are to the way female gymnasts' bodies have changed, too. It was fascinating to see how the changing in scores really alienates viewers of the sport, since no one knows what the scores mean anymore -- 10 MEANT something, even if it wasn't "perfect." It meant "damn great."

The part that was most
Book Riot Community
As a former competitive gymnast myself, I found this book enlightening and transformative. I grew up in the era of the 9.9s and 10.0s, and this book unpacked the mysteries of the new scoring system and gave me renewed interest in watching gymnastics at Rio. I loved reading about where my favorite gymnasts have ended up as well learning the names of (and watching on YouTube) the newer crop of elite and college level gymnasts. A terrific read for anyone interested in this incredible sport.
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a former competitive gymnast myself, I found this book enlightening and transformative. I grew up in the era of the 9.9s and 10.0s, and I loved reading about where my favorite gymnasts have ended up as well learning the names of (and watching on YouTube) the newer crop of inspiring elite and college level gymnasts. The book unpacked the mysteries of the new scoring system and gave me renewed interest in watching gymnastics at Rio.

Although it's been twenty years since I left the sport, it was
Nov 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book would have earned four stars if it wasn't nakedly, and unashamedly, racist in regards to Simone Biles. The multiple references to top gymnasts lacking finesse (which may apply to Mykyla Skinner but hardly applies to Biles) is topped with a certain piece de resistence of racism: Meyers insuation that Biles doesn't train hard enough and is just naturally talented. This is a woman who has FOUR skills named after her including a double-double beam dismount and a triple-double on floor ...more
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
FANTASTIC. As a former gymnast most books about gymnastics end up disappointing me because I don't feel like they do the sport justice. This book went above and beyond. It was a great history of the sport in the modern era that described all the things that contributed to the end of the 10.0 scoring system and how gymnastics has changed under the new system. I loved it and learned so much. Highly recommend.
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-grade, nonfiction
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

As I write this review, the US Womens Olympic team in gymnastics was just selected, and this is the sport I love more than all others (yes, more than polo). I watch it whenever I can, and I yell as loud as anyone at the absurd crapfire that is NBCs coverage (SHUT UP AL TRAUTWIG NEVER SPEAK AGAIN) (EVER).

Now, those of us who watched gymnastic before 2006, or know our gymnastics history, know about the ideal of the Perfect Ten. Before 2006, gymnastics
Jan 12, 2017 rated it liked it
3 stars for gym fans (me included), a solid 4 for non-fans. Meyers can write, and she's beyond knowledgeable about the sport. But I think there's some false advertising here - this book should be called "how the current U.S. gymnastics system works, with some random occasional musings about the end of the perfect 10." I wish Meyers had included fewer unnecessary information dumps (while keeping the necessary ones) and focused more on analysis. Basically, it wasn't what I was expecting, but this ...more
Ilena Robbins
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you like gymnastics you will love this book. If not I'm not sure why you read it.
Anne S
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
2019 - This came out in 2016. This book came out before the Larry Nasser scandal and he was put away for 175 years. I have been reading a lot of books about gymnastics because they intrigue me.

I remember Nadia Comaneci getting the first 10 in an Olympics, all at the age of 15! Wow. I remember Kerri Strug vaulting at the '956 olympics with a broken ankle and the US winning the all around competition.

It was interesting to see how the sports judging has evolved through the years since Nadia got her
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A really interesting book for gymnastics fans - well-researched, well-written and I discovered a lot about US gymnastics that I didn't already know (especially about the NCAAs). Highly recommended. 9 out of 10
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5/5. I'm more of a men's gymnastics fan but this book has a cool insight into the history of womens gymnastics in USA and how the change from the perfect 10 to the open ended scoring system has impacted womens gymnastics.
Very interesting, if at times repetitive and perhaps a bit hard to follow for those of us who are only casual observers of gymnastics every four years.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, 2017, nonfiction
I found this book via Book Riots, and I highly doubt that I would have found it otherwise. I was never a gymnast but I LOVE the Olympics and if I had been coordinated/flexible as a child I would have taken up gymnasts (I tried, but was embarrassingly bad). Anyways, if you're a former gymnast or Olympic nerd you'll enjoy this book. I wish it focused more on the Olympics themselves, but it was a fascinating look at how women's gymnastics has evolved over time and just how competitive and tough it ...more
Mary Flynn
I am a fiction reader. It is a rare occasion for me to pick up a nonfiction. And this absolutely was worth the read.

This book had such an incredible wealth of information, and I would absolutely love to spend a day just perusing her sources. So many people with such an influence in the sport gave insights for The End of the Perfect 10, and I was not expecting that and absolutely blown away. I discovered that Hardy Fink is my kindred spirit and I would love to spend a day with him just discussing
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction

Im only a casual gymnastics fan, but Ive always been fascinated by the scoring system. Whether it was ever true or not, there seemed to be Herculean effort put into making it opaque and difficult for the casual observer to understand. I always assumed that was to protect the judges who may or may not have been engaging in secret reciprocal voting agreements with other judges to ensure high placements for the athletes of their own countries. (Think Soviet Bloc.)

Out of that atmosphere of
victor harris
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports

Quite timely as it was released in advance of the Olympics. You do not have to understand the mechanics and nuances of gymnastics to appreciate the interesting narrative of how scoring in the events has evolved since Nadia Comanechi became a sensation with her perfect 10 in 1976. That opened the floodgates to more 10s and it all transpired against the backdrop of Cold War politics. By the 1990s, the purportedly "perfect score" had become tainted and the push for reform and a new scoring system
Charlie Easterson
Jun 02, 2016 rated it liked it
The End of the Perfect 10 was interesting, to say the least, and did a thorough review of the history of Gymnastics, particularly in the U.S. However, sometimes the narrative seemed a little unfocused and there was a bevy of odd pop culture references that seemed both irrelevant and shoe-horned in as an afterthought. They completely stand out and disrupt the world and the flow of the rest of the book.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book tremendously and want to read on. As a former (casual) gymnast who has maintained a fascination with the sport, I did a lot of reminiscing and learned a lot. I couldn't resist watching all the moments and gymnasts discussed in the book on YouTube as I read along. I was also inspired to search (unsuccessfully) for an adult gymnastics class near me.
I read this whole book and I still think McKayla Maroney deserved a perfect score for her vault.
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
The chapters are long, but rich with history. Really enjoyed this one.
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you like gymnastics, Meyers discussion of what the loss of the "perfect 10" scoring mark has meant for elite gymnastics is a really interesting read. Using Nadia Comaneci's first perfect 10 in elite competition as a focal point, Meyer's argues that while the perfect 10 might have been satisfying to the average sports fan, the lack of open-ended scoring reduced the difference in individual gymnasts abilities. This means that a gymnast like Nadia or Nellie Kim (or more recently Simon Biles, ...more
Bedrooped Bookworms
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I've admitted before...ok, more than once...I really love gymnastics.  In the past few years I started watching a little more college gymnastics and paying attention to a lot more elite gymnastics (who is your Tokyo team as of right now?  I'm currently rooting for Simone, Leanne Wong, Morgan...and having trouble committing past there.  I'll go Jade and Sunisa Lee for the +2s, and...Riley?? a current junior? I'd love it to be Laurie but I just don't feel like that's happening).  So this is ...more
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
By virtue of walking out onto the competition floor with Bela and Martha [Karoli], an unknown might receive the sort of attention typically reserved for a star. This is true not only of the audience, but of the judges, too. While that may not be "fair," if you're a coach or athlete, you're going to take every possible advantage you can get. "That's what you do. Most people will not look a gift horse in the mouth and say, 'Take these two extra tenths back. I didn't deserve them,'" he explained.
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book had the misfortune of being published in July 2016, just months before Simone Biles dominated at the Rio Games and Larry Nassar was exposed for sexual abuse charges. Although Meyers cannot be faulted for information she did not know at the time of writing, much of the book becomes obsolete with the information we now know about Nassar, the Karolyis, the Ranch, and the abuse that exists in American gymnastics. There are whole chapters on the Karolyis and the Ranch in the book in which ...more
Erin Bomboy
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Almost certainly written to capitalize on the excitement of 2016 Olympics, The End of the Perfect Ten unpacks the history and the legacy of scoring in gymnastics. Dvora Meyers tackles both elite gymnastics, which eliminated the 10 due to continuing increases in skill level, and collegiate teams, which kept the old scoring system, thus building an audience to keep programs robust.

No knowledge of gymnastics is needed to follow Meyers' fan-girl prose although a section devoted to pictures would
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title caught my eye, and it turned out to be somewhat interesting. The award of the "perfect 10" to Nadia Comenici seemed to open a flood gate that was shut off only by changing the rules of scoring such events. Meyers' story tells an interesting story of the nature of world class gymnastics, but I started to wonder whether she really got to the heart of the matter. Nations warred against nations through their athletes, and used and abused the rules to their ultimate advantage. One can ...more
Mary Beth
Perfect 10 is a well-written, deeply reported look at the intricacies, reasons, and ramifications of gymnastics bewildering open-scoring system. Meyers clearly loves the sport but is insightful and even-handed about controversies around it, making for a fascinating read. (One unfortunate thing: This book was written and published before news of Larry Nassars crimes exploded. It casually quotes him multiple times in his capacity as a USA Gymnastics team physician, making clear just how deep and ...more
Lisa Houlihan
First sentence: "In the team finals of the women's gymnastics competition in 2012, sixteen-year-old U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney performed what is arguably is the best vault of all-time."

I was considering this for last year's Book Riot slot about sports. I don't particularly care about the numbers in sports: I want to see skilled bodies doing amazing things. In books, I don't want to see unnecessary hyphens anywhere, especially not in the very first sentence. I'm done.

Oh no. I am going to
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A whopper of a book at over 10 hours of listening time; still, I could not put this down. Each
chapter is chocked full of gymnasts names, moves, explanation of trends in the sports history, and other engaging information about the beloved sport. You will undoubtedly get an education, toggling between reading and running to YouTube to research Olympic performances and gymnast interviews . I would highly recommend this book to budding and veteran gymnasts alike, as well as coaches and gym parents.
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