AARHUS, Denmark – When the 2006 World Championships came to a close, the USA had claimed five silver medals and one bronze. Jana Bieger was the USA’s biggest medal winner, claiming the silver medal in the all-around and floor exercise to go with the women’s team silver. Alicia Sacramone’s silver vault medal and Alexander Artemev’s pommel horse bronze were historic for those two events. Nastia Liukin rounded out the medalists with her silver in the uneven bars.

"We are pleased with the results and proud of the efforts of all of our athletes," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "Any time you compete in an event on the World Championships or Olympic Games level and emerge with medals, that’s something to be proud of."
The U.S. women, who finished second at the 2006 World Championships behind China, have won a team medal at every major team competition since 2000: 2001 World Championships, third; 2003 World Championships, first; and 2004 Olympic Games, second. This is reminiscent of the USA’s run in the early 1990s. After the USA won its first team medal (a silver) in 1991, they went on to place third at the 1992 Olympic Games, second at the 1994 Worlds, third at the 1995 Worlds and win the title at the 1996 Olympics.
"The women’s program has demonstrated consistency at the highest level since 2000," said Penny. "They have shown the ability to medal at every major world or Olympic competition, which is a testament to the quality of our athletes and our program. This is an achievement, and a great showdown is developing among the top countries as we look ahead to Beijing."
After earning the team silver medal, the U.S. women went on to win four more silver medals. Bieger of Coconut Creek, Fla., claimed the silver medal in both the all-around and the floor exercise.
Sacramone of Winchester, Mass., became just the second U.S. woman to win a world silver medal in vault. Brandy Johnson finished second at the 1989 World Championships. Sacramone’s bronze in 2005 was the USA’s first vault medal since Johnson.
On the uneven bars, Liukin of Parker, Texas, who was recovering from an injured ankle, won the fifth silver medal. Bieger placed fifth on this event.
Also, Ashley Priess of Hamilton, Ohio, and Natasha Kelley of Houston, both of whom competed in the team competition, advanced to the all-around and floor exercise finals when Memmel of West Allis, Wis., withdrew due to injury. Both gained valuable experience, with Priess finishing 10th in the all-around and Kelley finishing seventh on floor. Jacquelyn Johnson of West Chester, Ohio, was the alternate.
"This shows we have many gymnasts who can succeed at the top level," said Martha Karolyi, the women’s national team coordinator.

Men’s competition
Artemev of Morrison, Colo., was third on the pommel horse and is the first U.S. gymnast to earn a world pommel horse medal since Kurt Thomas was second at the 1979 World Championships. In the all-around, Guillermo Alvarez of Denver finished in 18th place, with Artemev in 22nd place.
The U.S. Men’s Team missed qualifying for the team finals by just 1.075 and finished 13th. In addition to Artemev and Alvarez, the young and talented U.S. men’s squad included Jonathan Horton of Houston, David Sender of Arlington Heights, Ill., Clay Strother of Jasper, Texas, Kevin Tan of Fremont, Calif., and alternate David Durante of Garfield, N.J.
Head men’s coach Mark Williams said, "For our entire team, this was the first time for all of them to compete in a team World Championships. They just need to be out there and gain the confidence so that they can do well in that atmosphere."
"The World Championships were a learning experience for all of us," said Penny. "We know what improvements we need to work on, as well as have a better idea of how the new Code of Points is being interpreted and utilized. Some of our younger and less experienced athletes had the important opportunity of gaining valuable experience in competing in the pressure atmosphere that is the World Championships. We are very optimistic about the next two years and the work we need to do leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games."

2006 World Championships results


Team finals

1. China, 182.200
2. USA, 181.350
3. Russia, 177.325

1. Vanessa Ferrari, Italy, 61.025
2. Jana Bieger, Coconut Creek, Fla., 60.750
3. Sandra Raluca Izbasa, Romania, 60.250
U.S. finish
10. Ashley Priess, Hamilton, Ohio, 58.800

1. Cheng Fei, China, 15.712
2. Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass., 15.325
3. Oksana Chusovitina, Germany, 15.100

Uneven bars
1. Elizabeth Tweddle, Great Britain, 16.200
2. Nastia Liukin, Parker, Texas, 16.050
3. Vanessa Ferrari, Italy, 15.775
U.S. finish
5. Jana Bieger, Coconut Creek, Fla., 14.550

Balance beam
1. Iryna Krasnianska, Ukraine, 15.575
2. Sandra Raluca Izbasa, Romania, 15.500
3. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, Canada, 15.475

Floor exercise
1. Cheng Fei, China, 15.875
2. Jana Bieger, USA, 15.550
3. Vanessa Ferrari, Italy, 15.450
U.S. finish
7. Natasha Kelley, USA, 15.300



1. China, 277.775
2. Russia, 275.400
3. Japan, 274.800

1. Wei Yang, China, 94.400
2. Hiroyuki Tomita, Japan, 93.175
3. Fabian Hambuechen, Germany, 92.975
U.S. finishes
18. Guillermo Alvarez, Den