Atler, Ray and Maloney Lead the Charge As Team Qualifies for 2000 Olympic Games
TIANJIN, CHINA–The U.S. women finished the first day of team competition at the 1999 World Gymnastics Championships in fifth place, earning a spot in the team finals as well as qualifying for the 2000 Olympic Games.
The U.S. scored 151.001 points in finishing fifth. Romania dominated the competition, scoring 154.394. Russia finished second with 153.576 points. Ukraine, China, the U.S. and Australia battled for the remaining spots. Ukraine scored 151.970, China, 151.720 and Australia, 150.688.
The top six teams advance to the team finals on Tuesday, Oct. 12. The top 12 teams from these world championships qualify for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
“We started strong on vault, had trouble on beam and bars, but came back strong on floor,” said Kelli Hill, head coach for the U.S. team. “We will work out our glitches and be fine in two days. Our goal is to win a team medal.”
Vanessa Atler (Canyon Country, Calif.) finished the day in 7th place, the top U.S. finisher. She was the highest U.S. scorer on vault with a 9.518 and on floor with a 9.762.
Elise Ray (Columbia, Md.) finished 12th and was the top U.S. performer on uneven bars, scoring a 9.60. Kristen Maloney (Pen Argyl, Pa.) was 16th and led the U.S. on beam with a 9.612. All three qualified for the individual all-around competition.
“We feel pretty good about our finish, but there are several things we can do better,” Maloney said. “We’ve got to work on some things, and hopefully, we can come back stronger on Tuesday.”
“I feel great,” Atler said. “I was a little nervous and not sure how we’d do, but I think we all did great.”
“I definitely think we can win a team medal,” Ray said. “We have some little things to fix, but we have time to makes those adjustments. We are a really good group that works well together, and we have a lot to learn from this world championships, but also a lot of gain from it.”