MELBOURNE, Australia – Nastia Liukin of Plano, Texas, Chellsie Memmel of West Allis, Wis., and Alicia Sacramone of Winchester, Mass., qualified to advance to the final rounds of the 2005 World Gymnastics Championships in Melbourne, Australia.
Liukin and Memmel went one-two in the all-around qualification round and will compete in the finals on Nov. 25. The women will compete in all four event finals: vault, Sacramone; uneven bars and balance beam, Liukin and Memmel; and floor exercise, Sacramone and Liukin. Jana Bieger of Coconut Creek, Fla., the team’s fourth member, would have qualified for the finals on the uneven bars based on score but the format limits the finals to just two athletes per country. The individual event finals for vault and uneven bars are Nov. 26, with beam and floor on Nov. 27. The USA’s Todd Thornton competes in the men’s all-around on Nov. 24 and Jason Gatson on the parallel bars on Nov. 27.
Just 0.012 of a point separated Liukin and Memmel in both the all-around and the uneven bars. Memmel competed in the first round, posting a 37.412 all-around total. Liukin competed in the third session, scoring a total of 37.424 to take the lead in the all-around, which she kept after the fourth and final session was completed. In the uneven bars, the duo also locked up the top two spots, Liukin scored a 9.562 to Memmel’s 9.550. On the beam, Memmel was seventh with a 9.200 in the qualification round. Liukin was third in the floor exercise with a 9.475 and sixth on the balance beam with a 9.262.
"I felt really good out there," said Memmel, who competes for M & M Gymnastics. "It was really great to be halfway around the world and (have) people still know my name. There are a lot of good competitors out there and it’s going to come down to whoever hits their routines best on that night."
Liukin, who competes at the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy, said, "I’m really excited to get the first competition finally under our belt, and I think we all did a great job. Of course, there are a few little things to go back to in training, those extra little things you can always fix. Tomorrow is going to be a good training day and then I’ll be ready for the all-around the next day."
Rounding out the top three in the all-around after the qualification round is Australia’s Monette Russo, a 2004 Olympian. Also in the final group are a number of well-known gymnasts, including France’s Isabelle Severino, a 2004 Olympian, and Emilie LePennec, the 2004 Olympic uneven bars champ; and Russia’s Elena Zamolodchikova, the 2000 Olympic floor and vault champion and the 2002 world vault champion, and Anna Pavlova, who was third in the vault at the 2004 Olympics.
Sacramone finished second in the qualification round in both the vault and the floor exercise. In the vault, her 9.468 was just behind China’s Cheng Fei’s 9.631. Uzbekistan’s Oxana Chusovitina was third. For the floor exercise, defending world champion Daiane Dos Santos of Brazil landed in the top spot with a 9.550, barely ahead of Sacramone’s 9.500. Liukin was third at 9.475. On the balance beam, Romania’s Catalina Ponor, the Olympic champion, was first, followed by Fan and Russo.
Shannon Miller is the last American to win the world all-around title; she won back-to-back crowns in 1993-94. The only other U.S. woman to win the world all-around title was Kim Zmeskal in 1991. On the individual events, the USA’s world titlists have been: uneven bars – Hollie Vise and Memmel in 2003, Courtney Kupets in 2002, Miller in 1993 and Marcia Frederick in 1978; balance beam – Ashley Postell in 2002, Miller in 1994 and Zmeskal in 1992; and floor exercise – Miller in 1993 and Zmeskal in 1992. No U.S. woman has won a world vault title.
World Championships Sports Network (WCSN) is carrying live, final-round coverage from Melbourne on the Internet, beginning Nov. 24 with the men’s all-around finals and concluding on Nov. 26 with the last day of individual apparatus finals. The Webcast is available in the United States and U.S. territories for just $9.95. Log on to www.usa-gymnastics.org for more information.
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