Blaine Wilson, Elise Ray and Alyssa Beckerman Win All-Around Gold Medals
– All Teams Medal

Indianapolis, Ind. – USA Gymnastics is bringing home at least sixteen medals from both the Senior Pacific Alliance Championships, April 20-25 in Christchurch, New Zealand and the Spieth Sogipa competition, April 22-23, in Porto Alegre, Brazil. With competition concluding this evening, the medal count for the U.S. includes six gold, seven silver and three bronze. Both competitions served as a preview and preparation for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

“Our results from these two international meets prove that we are indeed closing the gap,” said USA Gymnastics President Bob Colarossi. “We sent our strongest teams to both competitions and these medals should serve as a huge confidence builder for the U.S. program. The hard work will continue as we push forward to the 2000 Olympic Games.”

Women’s Competition

Elise Ray (Columbia, Md.), eighth place all-around and top U.S. finisher at the 1999 World Championships, confirmed her world-class status by winning the Senior Pacific Alliance all-around gold medal with a score of 38 points. Ray defeated second place finisher Ling Jie (37.275) from China, the 1999 World Championships balance beam gold medalist.

Morgan White
(Cincinnati, Ohio), the 1999 Pan American Games all-around gold medalist, tied for the bronze medal with Australia’s Lisa Skinner (37.225), a 1999 World Championships team member. 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Amy Chow (San Jose, Calif.) finished fifth (37.112).
The United States women claimed the team gold medal (112.962) over Australia (111.650) and defending Pacific Alliance champion China (111.137), a major victory since both countries prevailed over the U.S. at the 1999 World Championships.
Ray won a silver medal in the uneven bars event final with 9.650, while teammate Vanessa Atler (Plano, Texas) won a bronze medal on the vault with a 9.212.
“It was really good to see the team come together after all the work we have been doing,” said Bela Karolyi, women’s national team coordinator for USA Gymnastics. “For us, the road to Sydney began here in Christchurch.”
1999 World Championships Team Member Alyssa Beckerman (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the U.S. women to a team gold medal with 112.346 points at the Spieth Sogipa competition this weekend in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Beckerman also won the all-around gold medal with 37.750. Tasha Schwikert (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Lindsay Wing (Washington D.C.) won the silver and bronze respectively, scoring 37.233 and 36.983. Jeanette Antolin (Paradise, Calif.) scored 36.417.

Men’s Competition

Blaine Wilson reigned supreme in a comeback effort to win the Senior Pacific Alliance all- around gold medal. With a score of 56.766, Wilson defeated Zhao Sheng (56.230) and Li Dehzi (55.715) both of China.
“It was great to see Blaine back in competition again and on the top of the awards stand,” said Sandy Knapp, Chair of USA Gymnastics.
Wilson had a slow start in the all-around after landing short on his vault but came back strong and hit his next five events. Sean Townsend (Houston, Texas) placed fourth with 54.782, and teammate Steve McCain (Houston, Texas) finished fifth with 54.532.
“I knew I had to make every routine after kicking out on my vault,” said Wilson.
The team competition was decided on the final event with defending champion China emerging as the winner by the narrow margin of 0.145. China scored 168.426 points to the U.S. score of 168.281. The U.S. team struggled on its first event, but almost overtook the lead that the Chinese had from the start.
“I am proud of the way our team fought back after a rough start,” said Senior Pacific Alliance and 2000 Olympic Coach Peter Kormann. “Five events were excellent but you need six to win”.
In the event finals, Guard Young (Provo, Utah) won the gold medal on floor exercise with a score of 9.475. Young also recently won the floor exercise event at the Olympic Test Event in Sydney in February.

Rhythmic Competition

Jessica Howard (Jacksonville, Fla.), the 1999 Pan American Games silver medalist, added an all-around silver medal to her collection by scoring 38.12 in the Senior Pacific Alliance. Canadian Erika Leigh Stirton edged Howard for the all-around gold by scoring 38.41.
1999 U.S. Junior National Champion Lindsay Powell (Jacksonville, Fla.) had a strong showing by placing fourth (37.530), and Stefanie Croyle (Harvard, Mass.) placed seventh (37.000).
The U.S. narrowly lost the team gold medal to the Canadians by less than a tenth of a point. The U.S. scored 112.687 to Canada’s 112.775.
In the rhythmic event finals, Howard won the silver medal in both rope (9.583) and hoop (9.666).
“It was disappointing to lose such a close battle to Canada, but our results are a large confidence booster for Jessica and the U.S. team as we head to Corbeil,” said Jan Exner, Senior Rhythmic Program Director for USA Gymnastics. “The U.S. is definitely a strong international contender, and we will keep preparing for our potential spot in the Olympic Games.”
Howard and Powell are preparing to travel to the International Rhythmic Gymnastics Competition of Corbeil-Essonnes, April 28-30 in Corbeil, France, an event known as a “mini-World Championships”.

Today’s competition

Senior Pacific Alliance competition concludes today with more event finals: men’s vault, parallel bars and high bar, women’s balance beam and floor exercise, and rhythmic ball and ribbon.
Following were participating federations in the Senior Pacific Alliance: Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Chinese Taipei and Venezuela. Competition took place at the Westpac Trust Sports and Entertainment Centre.