Road To Athens Flips, Twirls Through San Jose
posted on 06/11/2004

INDIANAPOLIS - Two tickets to Athens are up for grabs when the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Rhythmic Gymnastics and Trampoline take place at 6 p.m. June 19 at the San Jose State University Events Center.

While there is much debate on the artistic side about which gymnasts will comprise the 2004 Olympic Team, two clear favorites in rhythmic and trampoline appear ready to pack their bags. For three-time rhythmic national champion Mary Sanders and five-time trampoline national champion Jennifer Parilla, Athens may be only a few routines away.

Sanders, a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, is the USA's top contender for a rhythmic medal in Athens. The Toronto native easily swept the 2004 Visa U.S. Championships all-around competition June 2-5 in Nashville, finishing more than 10 points ahead of her next competitor, Olga Karmansky from Brooklyn, N.Y. Sanders also won gold medals in hoop and ball, but due to a nagging foot injury she withdrew from the clubs and ribbon finals.

"I probably will change around a few routines before the Trials," said Sanders. "I could have been better but I'm satisfied with my all-around performance."

Sanders qualified the United States for the individual rhythmic competition in Athens by finishing ninth in the all-around preliminary competition at the 2003 Rhythmic World Championships on Sept. 24, 2003 in Budapest, Hungary. Sanders' ninth-place finish is the best-ever finish for a U.S. rhythmic athlete as were her two fourth-place finishes in the clubs and hoop prelims, followed by seventh-place finished in both event finals.

Sanders will be challenged by national all-around silver medalist Olga Karmansky, whose performances in Nashville earned her gold medals in the clubs and ribbon, and Lisa Wang from Buffalo Grove, Ill., who finished third in the all-around. Two Californians - Aline Bakchadijan and Alexandra Licona - qualified in sixth and seventh place, respectively.

California's own Jennifer Parilla of Newport Beach bounced her way to victory, winning her fifth national all-around trampoline title at the Visa U.S. Championships in Nashville. Parilla became the first women's trampoline Olympian for the United States by competing in the 2000 Olympic Games, where she finished ninth.

"Obviously any athlete who makes it to the Olympics wants to do their best," said Parilla. "I have a lot of competition ahead."

Parilla qualified the U.S. for a position in the 2004 Olympics by placing 16th at the 2003 Trampoline World Championships on Oct. 27 in Hannover, Germany. Parilla will compete against four other women for the trampoline position, including Amanda Bailey, who qualified to Trials in second place, and Kim Poling, who qualified to the Trials in third place.

Individual rhythmic gymnastics first appeared in the Olympic Games in 1984, with trampoline following in 2000.

Tickets for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Rhythmic Gymnastics & Trampoline range from $12 to $15, and VIP packages, which include a reserved seating area, event program and an autographed poster, are $40. Tickets can be purchased online at, charged by phone at (212) 307-7171, or through the San Jose Event Center Box Office. To purchase group tickets, please contact Talya Rogers at (408) 288-2933. For more ticket information, email USA Gymnastics.
Rhythmic Trials Qualifiers
Last First Hometown Club
Bakchadijan Aline Woodland Hills, Calif. Hollywood Academy
Javornicky Shayna Corona, N.Y. Isadora
Karmansky Olga Brooklyn, N.Y. Nova Athletics
Kharina Valery Deerfield, Ill. Illinois Rhythmics
Licona Alexandra Culver City, Calif. Hollywood Academy
Sanders Mary Toronto, Canada Ritmika
Stacker Brenann Lincolnshire, Ill. Illinois Rhythmics
Wang Lisa Buffalo Grove, Ill. Rhythmic Gems