Shawn Johnson

BEIJING, Aug. 10, 2008 – The U.S. Olympic Team for women’s gymnastics qualified for the team finals at the 2008 Olympic Games by finishing second in the qualification round at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China. Shawn Johnson of West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics, and Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas/WOGA, advanced to the all-around finals. Alicia Sacramone of Winchester, Mass./Brestyan’s, Johnson and Liukin qualified to compete in individual event finals.

The top eight countries advanced to the team finals. China finished first in the qualification round with a score of 248.275, followed by the USA in second with 246.800. Russia and Romania were third and fourth, respectively, with scores of 244.400 and 238.425, and Australia was fifth at 235.450. Rounding out the team finalists were France in sixth, Brazil in seventh and Japan in eighth. In the team finals, three athletes compete on each event and all three scores count.

Johnson and Liukin both advanced to the individual event finals on balance beam and floor exercise. Liukin also will compete on the uneven bars. Sacramone qualified for the vault finals in third place. Johnson and Liukin went one-two in the all-around. Johnson was second on beam and third in the floor exercise. Liukin was third on beam and fourth on floor. Sacramone was fourth on balance beam and Bridget Sloan of Pittsboro, Ind., finished 11th in the all-around, but neither advanced to the final rounds because only two athletes per country may advance to the finals in accordance with International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) rules. The top eight gymnasts in each event and the top 24 in the all-around from the qualification round advanced to the finals.

Joining Johnson, Liukin, Sacramone and Sloan on the U.S. Olympic Team for women’s gymnastics are: Chellsie Memmel of West Allis, Wis./M&M Gymnastics; and Samantha Peszek of Indianapolis, Ind./DeVeau’s. The three replacement athletes are: Jana Bieger of Coconut Creek, Fla./Bieger International Gymnastics; Ivana Hong of Blue Springs, Mo./GAGE; and Corrie Lothrop of Gaithersburg, Md./Hill’s.

For the qualification round, the format allows for five athletes to compete on each event and the top four scores count toward the team score. The U.S. team had an unfortunate last minute surprise just prior to the start of the competition. During the warm-up session, Peszek injured her left ankle when landing a tumbling pass and as a result, only competed on uneven bars.

“With Sam’s injury at the last minute, it gave a tiny bit of disturbance mentally to the girls,” said Martha Karolyi, women’s national team coordinator. “We did all we could in a few moments to bring them together. We could see some mistakes based on that, but those routines are 100 percent ready physically to be done.”

“We’ve overcome so many obstacles, but we came out here today and showed the world and every team out here that we can come back strong,” Johnson said. “We made a few mistakes, but it is prelims and it’s the perfect time to make them. We’re going to come back even stronger in the team finals. We’re ready to fight for it.”

“Going into team finals, there are a few things we need to correct, but we have two days of training left,” Liukin said. “I’m confident that we’ll get those out of the way and we’ll be ready to go.”

The USA began the competition on floor exercise and posted a score of 60.050. Johnson earned the team’s highest score with a 15.425, followed by Liukin with a 15.350 and Sloan with a 14.850. Sacramone rounded out the scoring with a 14.425.

The USA’s vault score of 62.225 was the highest of the qualification round for any country. Johnson and Sacramone posted a 16.000 and a 15.850, respectively, with Sloan earning a 15.275 and Liukin scoring a 15.100.

Liukin’s 15.950 was the best score for the U.S. women on the uneven bars. Johnson and Memmel earned scores of 15.325 and 15.050, respectively. Sloan and Peszek both posted a score of 14.800. The USA totaled a 61.125 on uneven bars.

The USA finished the qualification round with strong routines on balance beam and earned a score of 63.400, the highest of any country in the qualification round. Posting scores of 15.975 were Johnson and Liukin, followed by Sacramone at 15.950 and Sloan at 15.500.

“We want to focus on the competition and go out there and do our very best,” said Memmel regarding the team finals. “I think we did very well for the first day of the meet. We have some mistakes that we can fix in training for finals. But I think it was a good day.”

“The crowd was awesome and the fans cheered for everyone,” Peszek said. “I thought they really got everyone revved up and ready for the competition.”

“Even though we did have some mistakes, we’re going to go back into the gym tomorrow and fix those few kinks,” Sacramone said. “We’ll be ready for team finals.”

“Everyone is looking forward to team finals to show what we can do,” Sloan said.

Scores from the qualification round do not carry forward to the finals.

The women’s team finals are Aug. 13 (10:15 a.m.), with the all-around finals on Aug. 15 (11:15 a.m.). Individual event finals are Aug. 17-19 (6 p.m.).

2008 Olympic Games
National Indoor Stadium
Beijing, China
Aug. 10, 2008
Women’s qualification round results

Team Results (top 8 qualify for team finals)
1. China, 248.275
2. USA, 246.800
3. Russia, 244.400
4. Romania, 238.425
5. Australia, 235.450
6. France, 233.875
7. Brazil, 233.800
8. Japan, 233.175
9. Great Britain, 232.425
10. Italy, 231.275
11. Ukraine, 231.125
12. Germany, 230.800

USA Individual Results

Bridget Sloan – 14.850
Alicia Sacramone – 14.425
Nastia Liukin – 15.350
Shawn Johnson – 15.425

Rotation 2 – VAULT
Nastia Liukin – 15.100
Bridget Sloan – 15.275
Shawn Johnson – 16.000
Alicia Sacramone – 15.625

Rotation 3 – UNEVEN BARS
Samantha Peszek – 14.800
Bridget Sloan – 14,800
Shawn Johnson – 15.325
Chellsie Memmel – 15.050
Nastia Liukin – 15.950

Rotation 4 – BALANCE BEAM
Bridget Sloan – 15.500
Alicia Sacramone – 15.950
Nastia Liukin – 15.975
Shawn Johnson – 15.975
Samantha Peszek –