Maria Olaru Wins World Title

Tianjin, China – In her first world championships, Elise Ray (Columbia, Md.) finished 8th in the individual all-around competition at the 1999 World Championships in Tianjin, China. Maria Olaru of Romania was the all-around champion, with Victoria Karpenko (UKR) second, and Elena Zamolodchikova (RUS) capturing the bronze. Ray finished with a score of 38.017, .757 behind Olaru, who finished with 38.774.

The three Americans scheduled to compete in today’s all-around competition included Ray, Vanessa Atler (Canyon Country, Calif.), and Kristen Maloney (Pen Argyl, Pa.). Each athlete encountered problems over the past two days, causing Maloney to withdraw from the all-around competition (sprained right knee), and Atler to compete with a sore left ankle that has been bothering her throughout the year. Ray competed with a sprained right middle finger, injured during training on Wednesday. Her performance was impressive.
Ray began the competition on the floor with a 9.662, and then scored a 9.343 on her vault rotation. True to form, she was solid on the uneven bars and entered the final rotation in 5th place. Ray scored a 9.343 on the balance beam.
“It’s quite a feeling just to be out in the same arena with the best in the world,” commented Ray. “This has been an exciting experience. You really can’t know about it until you are out there, and I want to do it all over again.”
“There are areas I need to fix on every event,” she added. “I made some mistakes out there today that could have bumped my score up. Knowing that there are a bunch of things that I can fix will help me make the leap (into medal contention).”
“Now that I have this under my belt, I know what to expect, which will definitely help in the future.”
Atler struggled throughout the competition, but managed to finish her routines. Atler recovered from a shaky performance in the team finals to start the competition with a solid vault. After working through a break on the uneven bars (8.775), she delivered an aggressive performance on the balance beam, scoring a 9.5. She struggled on the floor scoring a 7.90 to finish her competition.
“I was worried about my ankle,” said Atler. “Today it felt a little better so I just went for it in the competition. Now I know what world championships are like, and I think that will help.”