© John Cheng

LONDON, Great Britain, Oct. 16, 2009 – Bridget Sloan of Pittsboro, Ind., won the women’s all-around title at the 2009 World Championships at The O2 Arena in London, Great Britain, finishing just 0.050 ahead of teammate Rebecca Bross of Plano, Texas.

“I didn’t even look at the scores or notice them,” said Sloan, who was a member of the 2008 Olympic Team that won the silver medal. “At the very end of the meet, Marvin (Sharp, her coach) came up and said, ‘Look,’ and I went, ‘Oh my gosh, did this just happen?’ Looking at how close it (the competition) was, that is about as close as you can get.”

The USA won the top two world spots only one other time, four years ago in Melbourne, Australia, when Chellsie Memmel of West Allis, Wis., slipped by Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas, to win the title by just 0.001. The USA’s Shawn Johnson also won the world all-around title in 2007, giving the USA the coveted all-around crown in three of the last four World Championships.

“This is a tremendous moment for Bridget, Rebecca, and all of the coaches and athletes connected with women’s program,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “Both athletes have worked hard to achieve this result and they are a testament to the continuing legacy of success being developed within our country.”

The battle for the title went down to the last event, the floor exercise. Sloan, the reigning U.S. all-around champion, earned a 14.200 for her floor routine. Bross went last, and a bad landing on her last tumbling pass gave her a 12.875, which moved Sloan into the top spot.

“I honestly am not surprised (about going first and second), but I am very happy,” said Martha Karolyi, the U.S. women’s national team coordinator. “We knew we were prepared, but that it is not enough. You have to have the consistency to go out there when the most pressure is on. We are doing a lot of mental preparation with the girls, and I think this is the result of that.

“Both of the gymnasts are really good,” said Karolyi. “One needs a little bit more experience. One of them is extremely young and very promising. I foresee a fantastic future for Rebecca, even with the mistake in this meet, and she will be a front-runner in the years to come. I am proud of Bridget to have come from an alternate in 2007 (on the World team) to a team member on the 2008 Olympic Team to this year stepping up as an individual (competitor) and taking over the responsibility to earn the medals for the USA. I am very proud.”

Bross, who trains at WOGA, and Sloan, who trains at Sharp’s Gymnastics, competed in the same rotation group, starting the competition on vault. Both Bross and Sloan performed a Yurchenko double full. Both Bross and Sloan had small steps on their landings, earning a 14.525 and a 14.825, respectively.

Bross nailed her difficulty-packed uneven bars routine, including a full twisting double back dismount. She posted a 15.075. Sloan earned a 14.800 for her routine, where she stuck her full twisting double layout dismount.

On beam, Bross was first up in her group and had a strong routine, including a double Arabian dismount. She scored a 15.300, which moved her into first in the standings at 44.900. Sloan had a few wobbles on beam, which resulted in a 14.000 and put her into second place in the all-around with 43.625.

Sloan did an impressive floor routine that included a Randi and a pike full-in along with her double pike dismount. She tallied a 14.200, giving her a 57.825 all-around total. Bross, who was up last on the event, has a strong floor routine that included a layout to double front. The routine was going well until she put her hands down while landing her last tumbling pass, which earned her a 12.875 and the total score of 57.775.

“It was a little bit of a shock (when I won),” said Sloan. “Going into floor, I knew that second place was a very good possibility. At same time, I was just hoping for the best for both of us. There was no ‘I want to win’; that wasn’t even in my mind. Becca has a very strong routine, and I do too, but just not as good as hers. When she fell, emotions just started going in and out of my head. I can’t say I was happy because a teammate fell. It was, ‘Oh no.’ I am very happy with how I did today.”

Bross, who trains at the same gym with 2008 Olympic all-around champion, competed in her first World Championships, as well as her first senior level international meet.

“I’m very happy with what I did tonight,” said Bross. “I had a mishap on floor on my last pass, but that happens and there is nothing I can do about it. I wasn’t really thinking about medals or scores. I was just trying to work on what I had to do and do it to the best of my abilities.”

This year’s World Championships features competition in the all-around and individual events. Individual event finals, which feature the top eight on each apparatus from the qualification rounds, take place Oct. 17-18. Prelim scores do not carry forward to the final round.

Newcomer Kayla Williams of Huntington, W.Va., advanced to the vault finals at the top of the rankings. Teammates Ivana Hong of Allen, Texas, as well as Bross and Sloan, will also compete in individual event finals. Hong will compete on bars, with Bross and Sloan both in the bars final. Steven Legendre of Flower Mound, Texas, Danell Leyva of Miami, Tim McNeill of Falls Church, Va., and 2008 Olympic silver horizontal bar medalist Jonathan Horton of Houston all qualified to event finals. Legendre, who competes for the University of Oklahoma, will compete in the floor exercise finals. McNeill, who competed for the University of California – Berkeley, was in the top eight for pommel horse, and both Leyva, who trains at Universal Gymnastics, and Horton, who trains at Cypress Gymnastics, are in the horizontal bar finals.

2009 World Championships
London, Great Britain
Oct. 16, 2009
Women’s all-around finals
Complete Results

1. Bridget Sloan, Pittsboro, Ind./Sharp’s Gymnastics, 57.825
2. Rebecca Bross, Plano, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics, 57.775
3. Koko Tsurumi, Japan, 57.175