Roethlisberger and Wilson Lead the Charge
TIANJIN, CHINA – The U.S. men sent a strong signal to the gymnastics world at the 1999 World Championships in Tianjin, China, finishing sixth and qualifying for Tuesday’s team finals. The result also qualified the U.S. for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, awarded to the top 12 teams.
China dominated the men’s competition, scoring 230.546 points. Russia finished a distant second with 227.083 and Belarus third, with 226.557. Japan scored 226.382 to place fourth and Korea finished fifth with 225.319. The U.S. scored 224.594 in sixth.
“Today we were concerned about hitting the routines,” said Yoichi Tomita (Tucson, Arizona), U.S. team coach. “We always say it is not over until the last guy comes off the equipment. We are going to the final and we have nothing to lose.”
The U.S. was led by Olympians John Roethlisberger (Falcon Heights, Minn.), and Blaine Wilson (Columbus, Ohio). Wilson’s top performance was on parallel bars (9.625) and he scored three 9.5s on high bar (9.562), vault (9.562) and floor exercise (9.512). Roethlisberger scored a 9.650 on pommel horse, and followed it with a dramatic 9.525 on the high bar — sealing the U.S. advancement to the next round.
“We had the American flag tattooed on our hearts, and we went out there and fought it out,” said four-time U.S. champion Wilson. “We did not hit every routine, but we were really close to it. We had no major breaks. That’s the American spirit – you come back, you stop the bleeding, and you make things happen.”
“We have the biggest hearts in the world,” said team captain Roethlisberger. “We are going to go out in the finals and make magic happen. America has done it before and we can do it again.”