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Gymnast Shifts Her Sights From Seoul to Toronto

July 31, 1986|DARRYL MAXIE

Laura Shapiro would love to perform routines on the balance beams, work the uneven bars and do floor exercises in the Olympics someday. But that day is somewhere in the distant future. It surely isn't 1988.

So, for now, the 16-year-old Northridge gymnast has shifted her goals. Instead of Seoul, South Korea, her sights are set on Toronto, Canada.

On Aug. 15, that's where she and fellow gymnast Rebecca Chiprut, a 13-year-old from Bel-Air, will be for the Youth Maccabee Games, the junior edition of the Jewish Olympics.

Shapiro and Chiprut, who have worked out at Gymnastics Olympica in Van Nuys for three years, will be two of six gymnasts representing Los Angeles for one week at the Games, which are for athletes aged 16 and younger.

Under the scrutiny of their coach, Fritz Reiter, a former Austrian Olympian, the gymnasts usually work out five hours a day, six days a week. But, as the Games grow closer, their training has grown more intense.

"We're working a lot harder, a lot of extra training and work," said Shapiro, who will be a junior at Granada Hills High this fall. "We're getting a lot more attention from our coach. Like triple the amount of routines. We normally do two or three. He'll have us do five.

"I think it will be a good experience and help me in my career. My main goal is to get a scholarship to UCLA or someplace and work on the team there."

A medal from Toronto would be an ornament to make any dorm room complete.

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