LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Blaine Wilson (Columbus, Ohio) led the field at the halfway point of the men’s individual all-around competition before succumbing to the wear of three consecutive days of competition at the 1997 World Gymnastics Championships, held Friday evening in the Malley Sports Center.
In the women’s individual all-around, Kristin Maloney (Pen Argyl, Pa.) was the highest-ranking American, taking 13th with a score of 37.054. Right behind in 14th was 1996 Olympian Dominique Moceanu (Houston, Texas), who scored a 36.961. Kristy Powell (Cincinnati, Ohio) had a 36.099, good for 23rd place.
"I ran out of gas," said Wilson, who hit his first three events (rings, vault and parallel bars) before falling on high bar and pommel horse. "I expended all my energy yesterday. I just got tired, and then I made a mental mistake and it was downhill from there."
Wilson said he learned two things during the last three days of competition. "I know I can win this meet, and I know that the USA can beat any team that’s out there," he said. "We’re not a doormat anymore. Nobody is better than us."
Getting into the individual all-around finals as an alternate, Jason Gatson (Mesa, Ariz.) demonstrated tremendous confidence in his first world championships, hitting all six of his routines to place 22nd. At 17, he is the youngest member of a USA men’s team at a world championships.
After a bobble on pommel horse which left him in seventh place, Ivan Ivankov of Belarus took advantage of Wilson’s fall during the fourth rotation to come back and claim the gold with a score of 56.887. Russia’s Alexei Bondarenko took the silver with a score of 56.061. Japan’s Naoya Tsukahara, whose father is a legend in the gymnastics world, earned the bronze with a 56.023.
"I had a little problem on bars, but I didn’t let it bother me," said Maloney. "I kept focused, kept a smile on my face and had fun. This gives me energy to come back next year and do an even better job."
Maloney returns to action on Sunday, representing the USA in the individual finals in balance beam.
"I’m not nervous about it," she said. "I think it’s my best event, and I’m not usually nervous about beam."
"I did the best meet of my year," said Moceanu, who was part of the squad which won the team gold medal in Atlanta last year. "I hit everything for the first time, which made me happy. The whole all-around was good for me. I’ve only been training under this Code of Points for two and a half months, while a lot of kids have been training it since last year."
"I was pleased that I stayed on the equipment and didn’t have any falls today," said Powell, the U.S. all-around co-champion. "My beam routine wasn’t so great, but overall I’m happy with the way things went, and now I’m ready for a rest. I was pleased with my vault, because I’ve been struggling with that all week. I finally put together two vaults on my feet. Since that was the last event, it was a nice way to end things on a high note."
Svetlana Khorkina of Russia staged a last-event comeback on uneven bars to jump from fourth to the title with a 38.636. Romania’s Simona Amanar was second at 38.587, while Elena Produnova of Russia was third with a 38.549. Gina Gogean of Romania, first after the third rotation, slipped out of the medals with a 38.543 for fourth.
Men’s Individual All-Around (top 10 plus USA finishes)
1, Ivan Invankov, Belarus, 56.887. 2, Alexei Bondarenko, Russia, 56.061. 3, Naoya Tsukahara, Japan, 56.023. 4, Dmitri Karbanenko, France, 55.936. 5, Huang Xu, China, 55.798. 6, Nikolay Krukov, Russia, 56.623. 7, Jesus Carballo, Spain, 55.486. 8, Eric Lopez Rio, Cuba, 55.061. 9, Alexander Beresch, Ukraine, 54.936. 10, Blaine Wilson, Columbus, Ohio, 54.911. 22, Jason Gatson, Mesa, Ariz., 53.935.
Women’s Individual All-Around (top 10 plus USA finishes)
1, Svetlana Khorkina, Russia, 38.636. 2, Simona Amanar, Romania, 38.587. 3, Elena Produnova, Russia, 38.549. 4, Gina Gogean, Romania, 38.543. 5, Meng Fei, China, 38.042. 6, Lioubov Sheremeta, Ukraine, 37.893. 7, Liu Xuan, China, 37.861. 8, Claudia Presecan, Romania, 37.717. 9, Olga Teslenko, Ukraine, 37.605. 10, Isabelle Severino, France, 37.299. 13, Kristin Maloney, Pen Argyl, Pa., 37.054. 14, Dominique Moceanu, Houston, Texas, 36.961. 23, Kristy Powell, Cincinnati, Ohio, 36.099.