HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Courtney Kupets proved on Thursday that reports of her steady progress are no joke, winning gold in just her first all-around competition since the team preliminary event of the 2003 World Championships on Aug. 17, 2003.
Kupets (Gaithersburg, Md./Hill’s Gymnastics) scored a 38.175, including a 9.725 on bars, to hold off relative newcomer Carly Janiga (Paradise Valley, Ariz./Desert Devils) at 37.075. Tabitha Yim (Irvine, Calif./Charter Oaks) and Kristina Comforte (Burr Ridge, Ill./Illinois Gymnatics) tied for third at 36.775.
“It was important to me to get in good all-around competition like this before going to the Visa U.S. Championships in 10 days,” said reigning national champion Kupets. “I felt good on all four events, and I know there’s areas I need to improve before Championships and Trials. But I feel that I’m on pace to compete well this summer.”
Kupets sustained a torn left Achilles tendon on Aug. 18, ending her World Championships two days before her teammates went on to win the United States’ first-ever women’s World Championships team gold medal. Kupets tied for first on bars and took second on beam at last weekend’s U.S. Classic in Rochester, N.Y.
Seventeen athletes from seven nations competed in the International Friendship event, held at the Women’s National Team Training Center on the grounds of the Karolyi Ranch. The top international finisher was Mexico’s Brenda Magana who scored a 35.625.
The event also marked the return to competition for several U.S. National Team members, including Yim, Samantha Sheehan and Annia Hatch.
The 2004 Visa U.S. Gymnastics Championships will showcase nearly 200 Olympic hopefuls vying for all-around and individual event national titles during the four-day event. The U.S. Championships are the first phase of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials process. Also up for grabs are roster spots on the 2004 U.S. National Teams.
Tickets for the Visa U.S. Championships can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 615-255-9600, www.ticketmaster.com, Gaylord Entertainment Center Box Office, or through participating gymnastics clubs listed at www.usa-gymnastics.org.
Women’s individual event finals will be broadcast on NBC Sports from 1-3 p.m. ET on June 5, with the women’s all-around slated for 2-3 p.m. ET on June 6.
For more information on the 2004 Visa U.S. Gymnastics Championships, log on to www.usa-gymastics.org.
International Friendship All-Around Final (top 12)
1, Courtney Kupets, USA, 38.175. 2, Carly Janiga, USA, 37.075. 3T, Tabitha Yim, USA, 36.775. 3T, Kristina Comforte, USA, 36.775. 5, Susan Jackson, USA, 36.375. 6, Samantha Sheehan, USA, 36.050. 7, Annia Hatch, USA, 35.750. 8, Brenda Magana, MEX, 35.625. 9, Gael Mackie, CAN, 35.250. 10, Amelie Plante, CAN, 34.975. 11, Melanie Marti, SUI, 34.625. 12, Renata Kiss, HUN, 33.375.