McClure places fourth in high bar; Howard turns in strong rhythmic event finals performances

Brisbane, Australia- Hollie Vise (Dallas, Texas), 13, earned the third Goodwill Games medal for USA Gymnastics this evening when she scored 8.887 on the balance beam. Vise earned her first bronze Thursday on the uneven bars while Brett McClure (Mill Creek, Wash.) won a bronze Wednesday on the pommel horse. Events contested tonight were parallel bars, high bar, balance beam and all four rhythmic event finals.

“I’m really happy about getting two medals here at the Goodwill Games,” said Vise. “This is a big accomplishment for me. I wasn’t very nervous tonight because I was used to the crowd from last night. I just wanted to go out there and do my best and do what I’ve learned and it turned out well.”
McClure performed a solid high bar routine, earning fourth place with 9.625. The high bar gold medal went to Australian hometown favorite Philippe Rizzo with 9.737. Rizzo also won gold on the high bar at the World University Games last week in Beijing. The silver medal was earned by 1999 All-Around World Champion Nikolai Kryukov from Russia with 9.712 while the bronze went to Xu Huang from China with 9.687.
“I was so happy to stay on the bar because I’ve never been so nervous,” said McClure. “I was a lot more nervous for this than I was at Championships. Following Olympic gold, silver and bronze medalists is scary because I’ve always thought I didn’t belong here, but now I’m so happy that I’m actually with these guys and able to hit a routine and place among them. My routine was very clean except for the dismount, and at this level it all comes down to the dismount. I have some work to do now. This was a great preparation and confidence builder for the World Championships.”
“I am very happy about getting the gold,” said Rizzo. “I wanted to show everyone that my World University Games medal was not a fluke. I feel confident going into Worlds, but I can’t let it get to my head. I have to get back in the gym to train.”
In the balance beam competition, the gold medal was earned by Xyaojiao Sun of China with 9.662. She was followed by Anna Pavlova, the 13 year old Russian sensation with 9.062. Vise was third with 8.887. U.S. teammate Carly Patterson (Baton Rouge, La.) was fifth with 8.687.
“This is my first Goodwill Games and I was very relaxed here, unlike at the Olympics,” said Sun. “I can’t wait to tell my parents!”

Xu Huang
from China won the parallel bars competition with a score of 9.675. Earning the silver medal was Kryukov with 9.450 and the bronze went to Ivan Ivankov, former world champion from Belarus, with 9.187. U.S. gymnast Jason Furr (Woodbridge, Va.) placed eighth.
“It may not be an Olympic gold, but this was well worth it,” said Huang. “My performance tonight was acceptable, but it still could use some work. My greatest wish is to be able to win the high bar event in Athens 2004.”
Rhythmic event finals competition was dominated by Russians. Winning the hoop was Irina Chashchina, 2001 Goodwill Games all-around gold medalist, with 28.525. Ball, clubs and rope gold medals were earned Alina Kabaeva, world champion and 2000 Olympic Games bronze medalist. She scored 28.725 on ball, 29.2 on clubs and 28.875 on rope. Jessica Howard (Jacksonville Fla.), three-time U.S. rhythmic national champion placed sixth in hoop, fifth in ball and clubs and seventh in rope.
“I’ll do a lot better next time,” said Howard. “It was a great experience for me, all competitions are experience. Just to go to the Goodwill Games was awesome and Australia’s been awesome. Next time I go to the Goodwill Games I’m going to do a lot better but I have a lot of work to do before then.”
Competition continues Saturday with the men’s all-around. 2001 U.S. National Champion and 2000 Olympian Sean Townsend and 2000 Olympian Stephen McCain will represent the U.S. Junior national team members Carly Patterson and Kaitlin White will compete in the women’s all-around on Sunday.