ATHENS – The U.S. Women”s Gymnastics Olympic Team made the U.S. 2-for-2 on Tuesday night by winning the team silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Team USA, bolstered by the highest team score on uneven bars, finished with a score of 113.584. Romania took the gold at 114.283 with Russia in third at 113.235.
The team medal is just the fifth team medal in U.S. women”s gymnastics history and the first since the U.S. women took team gold in 1996. The silver medal also marks the first time since 1984 that both the men”s and women”s teams medaled in the same Olympics, and is the only such dual medal performance in a non-boycotted Olympics in USA Gymnastics” Olympic history.
“We are more than happy with the silver medal,” said team member Annia Hatch, whose performance is even more significant since missing out on the ”96 Games. “We would like to share this accomplishment with all Americans back home. What we have accomplished here is great for American gymnastics.”
Team USA opened on vault where specialists Hatch and Mohini Bhardwaj got the U.S. going with marks of 9.562 and 9.500, and trailed by just 0.050 after the first rotation. The U.S. followed with its strongest event, uneven bars, earning a team score of 28.524 led by Courtney Kupets” 9.662 to take over first place after two rotations.
However, due to a right hamstring strain, the U.S. was forced to pull Kupets from the line-up on beam and replace her with Bhardwaj. Though nailing her routine, the lower start value for Bhardwaj left the United States in second after three rotations by the narrowest of margins.
Patterson finished with a solid 9.612 on beam followed by a 9.662 on floor. Patterson was one of just five athletes in the entire team final to compete on all four events. Romania picked up nearly five-tenths on the balance beam, and, capitalizing on a missed element by Kupets on floor, nailed its three floor routines to secure the gold.
“It”s a medal from the Olympics and that”s an accomplishment,” Kupets said. “No one should be disappointed. You know, a silver isn”t bad at all and we”re still happy.”
The team final is scored using the 6-3-3 format – three athletes compete on each event, with all three scores counting. The 2004 Olympics marks the first Olympic team final using the 6-3-3 format.
Competition continues on Wednesday with men”s all-around finals at 8:30 p.m. at the Olympic Indoor Hall, followed on Thursday by the women”s all-around final at 9 p.m. Team USA”s Paul Hamm and Patterson qualified in first place for their respective all-around finals, with Brett McClure and Courtney Kupets also qualifying.
The U.S. women were shut out of the medals at the 2000 Olympics. The team took fourth, with Elise Ray leading the U.S. in the all-around at 14th. Since that time, the U.S. women have won nine World Championships medals, including the first-ever team gold at the 2003 Worlds.
On the team silver medal:“We are really excited to have the silver medal. It”s been eight years since we”ve been on the award stand and we are very happy.”
On what the silver means to her: “The silver medal represents 21 years of gymnastics and hard work.”
On being named to the the balance beam line-up: “I was told about it early this morning in case something would happen. I was a little stressed out and I think mentally I wasn”t completely prepared, but I felt I did pretty well.”
On the team huddle: “We just huddle up together and try as much as possible not to be nervous.”
On the difference between the U.S. and Romania: “I don”t know that there was a difference. We both worked hard as a team.”
On her floor routine: “For me it was just my connection on my double turn. I didn”t quite stay straight up on it, so I couldn”t connect my next element. I was supposd to do a tuck jump double full after it.”
On the silver medal: “It”s a medal from the Olympics and that”s an accomplishment. No one should be disappointed. You know, a silver isn”t bad at all and we”re still happy.”
On the team silver medal: “Well you always come to win. Definitely, that”s what you have to think about everytime you come for a workout, but again, we are really proud to be here in the Olympics. We are really proud to get a medal. So, it just happens for a reason and we are still proud of it.”