HUNTSVILLE, Texas – The U.S. Women’s Olympic Team will travel to Athens with its strongest team in history after naming Carly Patterson, Mohini Bhardwaj, Annia Hatch, and Terin Humphrey to the roster on Sunday following five days of training at the Olympic Team Selection Camp at the Women’s National Team Training Center near Huntsville, Texas.
The gymnasts join 2004 Visa U.S. co-champion Courtney Kupets and 2004 Athens Olympic Test event winner Courtney McCool, who earned automatic berths after finishing 1-2 at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on June 27 in Anaheim, Calif.
The six gymnasts hail from five different clubs, demonstrating a geographic spread of elite caliber athletes and represent a continuing trend of athletes who have lived and trained at home throughout their careers. Team alternates will be Chelsie Memmel, Tasha Schwikert and Alysse Ishino.
Patterson’s position on the team was never in doubt, as National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi stated following the U.S. Olympic Team Trials that she would have named Patterson at that time had the procedures allowed. Patterson is a two-time Visa American Cup champion, reigning Visa U.S. co-champion, and world all-around silver medalist. Patterson, whose image graces McDonald’s cups nationwide, trains at World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) in Allen, Texas under Evgeny Marchenko.
Bhardwaj, emerged in 1997 by placing third in the all-around at the U.S. Championships before leading the UCLA Bruins to NCAA titles in 2000 and 2001. She earned a second bronze medal in the all-around at the 2001 U.S. Championships and went on to help the USA to a World Championships team bronze that fall. Bhardwaj then disappeared from the gymnastics spotlight until announcing in mid-2003 that she planned to make a run for the 2004 Olympic Team. Most recently, the vault specialist gained significant notoriety and funding thanks to model/actress Pamela Anderson’s $20K donation to Bhardwaj’s training fund. Bhardwaj continues to live and train in Los Angeles at All Olympians under UCLA assistant coach Chris Waller and Galina Marinova.
Hatch’s nomination completes a trio of gymnastics comeback stories that will go down in history just for making the team. First Kupets, then Wilson for the men, and now Hatch, who tore her left ACL on Aug. 16 at the 2003 World Championships. Hatch, the team’s vault specialist and a 1996 World bronze medalist on vault for Cuba, watched as her new U.S. teammates went on to gold and vowed to be with them in Athens. The 26-year-old Hatch is the United States’ oldest gymnastics Olympian since Doris Fuchs Brause (32 in ’64). Hatch trains at Stars Academy in West Haven, Conn., the gym she and husband, Alan, founded in 1997.
Humphrey’s low-key personality is the polar opposite of her high-energy personality on the floor exercise, where the all-arounder excels. Humphrey was a member of the 2003 World Championships gold-medal Team and by virtue of competing at the 2002 Worlds as well, makes her one of the most internationally seasoned of the team. Humphrey, who celebrates her 18th birthday on Aug. 14 – the day before team prelims – trains alongside McCool at Great American Gymnastics Express (GAGE) under coaches Armine Barutyan-Fong and Al Fong.
The three-person Selection Committee was comprised of Roe Kreutzer, chair, and chair of the Women’s International Elite Committee; Martha Karolyi, National Team Coordinator; and Larissa Fontaine, Athlete Representative.
The six Olympians will now return home to make final preparations before a final training camp at the end of July. The team travels to Athens on Aug. 4 and begins competition at the 2004 Olympic Games on Aug. 15 with Women’s Competition I, which serves as the team, all-around and individual event final qualification.
The women’s U.S. Olympic Team press conference is slated for Aug. 12 at the Athens Main Press Center. For more information and complete athlete bios, log on to www.usa-gymnastics.org/pr/.
2004 U.S. Olympic Team