Romanians Capture Title

Tianjin, China – The U.S. women’s gymnastics team concluded the team competition at the 1999 World Championships by finishing in 6th place, with a total score of 150.213. The U.S. Team was highlighted by strong performances from Elise Ray (Columbia, Md.) and Kristen Maloney (Pen Argyl, Pa.), however was overmatched in the team finals.

In a closely fought competition, the Romanians outscored the Russians to win the gold, 153.527 to 153.209. China captured the bronze before a noisy and very partial crowd.
“I think we had some awesome routines hit, but we did not get the scores,” said Kelli Hill (Hill’s Gymnastics), head coach of the women’s squad. “I am not saying we did our job totally. We should have done a better job, but there’s no way we were the sixth team out there.”
With very few significant mistakes, the U.S. team had difficulty maintaining concentration on their events. Following their second rotation, where the U.S. met with less than expected scores on the uneven bars, the crowd began to get behind a rallying Chinese team, creating a raucous environment in the Tianjin Sports Hall. This, accompanied by technical glitches in their final two rotations, had a marked impact on some of the U.S. performances.
Ray and Maloney were able to hit on two occasions. Ray scored a 9.725 on both the uneven bars and the floor exercise, with Maloney delivering a 9.550 on the balance beam, and a 9.662 on the floor. It was an uphill battle due to distractions, though. During Maloney’s final tumbling run, her music was stopped. Jeannette Antolin (Paradise, Calif.), first to perform on the floor exercise, was unable to begin her routine due to a music delay of over 5 minutes.
“As a team, we had a few mistakes, but I think we came in here more focused than the other night,” said two-time national champion Kristen Maloney. “I came in here to do the best that I could for the team. It just wasn’t there tonight. Hopefully we can come back next year.”
“I think we did a great job as a team,” added Ray. “There were a lot of distractions and things that we weren’t expecting. But overall, we stayed determined on what we had to do. It’s all a learning experience.”
At times, it appeared that every team was having trouble maintaining their composure, particularly on the balance beam. Romania and Russia each had falls, as did Vanessa Atler (Canyon Country, Calif.), who seemed particularly distracted by the crowd.
“It was the most nervous I have been in my entire life,” said Atler. “Most of us have never been to a world championships before, and dealt with some of this stuff. It is hard not to concentrate on all of that. I think it was really tough for all of us and I know it was hard for me. We are not saying we were perfect, we are not saying we did not make mistakes, we did. It’s hard to take your mind off of it, and we need to work on it.”
“Today was a very atypical day for us,” said Jack Carter (Parkettes), assistant U.S. coach. “This is a fresh group of kids, and now they know the grind of world championships. We’re only half way through. They are good kids, and now they know what to do.”

Team Results

1.  ROMANIA    38.180  38.474  37.786  39.087  153.527
2.  RUSSIA     37.835  38.899  37.625  38.850  153.209
3.  CHINA      36.774  38.899  38.375  38.375  152.423
4.  UKRAINE    37.492  38.586  37.736  38.524  152.338
5.  AUSTRALIA  37.298  38.111  37.224  38.299  150.932
6.  USA        37.578  37.387  37.024  38.224  150.213
Atler, Maloney and Ray compete again on Thursday, Oct. 14, in the all-around finals. The event finals are Friday and Saturday. Maloney will compete in both the beam and floor event finals, while Ray competes in the bars apparatus, and Atler on the floor.

Competition Schedule

Thursday, October 14 – 3:00 p.m. – Women’s All-Around Finals (CII)
Thursday, October 14 – 7:30 p.m. – Men’s All-Around Finals (CII)
Friday, October 15 – 7:30 p.m. – Men’s and Women’s Apparatus Finals (CIII)
Saturday, October 16 – 2:00 p.m. – Men’s and Women’s Apparatus Finals (CIII)

*** Tianjin is 12 hours ahead EST.