As usual, the critics were divided over Daniel Libeskind’s presentation. The skewed asymmetrical lines of his Spiral routine grated on traditionalists, who felt it lacked the grace and fluidity of traditional floor routines. They likened Libeskind’s performance to a pile of boxes tumbling – an accolade that would flatter few gymnasts.
Libeskind’s iconoclastic presentation contrasted starkly with the purist technique of that great all-rounder Lord Foster, who drew gasps of admiration for his daring-yet-graceful bridge vault over the Thames but dropped points when he wobbled on landing.
But where Foster was elegant and efficient, Libeskind was all elbows: leaning this way and that, he always looked like he was about to fall over. Yet he never did, thanks no doubt to rigorous sessions perfecting the technical aspects of his routine with Ove Arup & Partners’ Cecil Balmond.
The crowd had never seen anything like it before, and they were divided on the aesthetic merits of Libeskind’s performance. Was it sublime or ridiculous? Some stood up to applaud the originality and daring of Libeskind’s agile, gravity-defying techniques, whereas others looked bemused and uncomprehending. Several stormed out in protest. But the judges were unanimously in favour of Libeskind. They may not have understood it, they may not have liked it, but they knew it was a work of genius all the same.