After competing in the 1988 Summer Olympics, Charles Lakes decided to take some time off from gymnastics. He took a job working for various sponsors of the Goodwill Games, and traveled around the country promoting the event.
Then in March, Lakes decided he would make his comeback this weekend, in the U.S. Gymnastics Federation Western Regional Championships at UCLA's John Wooden Center.
The only problem with that decision is that Lakes, no longer a college student or a national team member, still had to work. That left him little time to work out.
"This is a classic example of the plight of the amateur in this country who is no longer being supported by the university system," Lakes said Sunday after completing the optional competition.
"I wanted to start training in March, but I had to make a living. Trying to make a comeback while supporting yourself is difficult."
Lakes is one of 36 gymnasts who spent Saturday and Sunday at UCLA attempting to qualify for the U.S. National Championships in Denver, Colo., June 8-10. The regional was one of three held this weekend, and only the top 72 scorers will advance.
The score from Saturday's compulsory competition will count 40% and the optional score 60%. The U.S. Gymnastics Federation will compute the scores and announce the qualifiers later.
Lakes, a former University of Illinois gymnast, finished 11th overall, with a point total of 105.15.
Seemingly, the truth of Lakes' remarks were demonstrated in Sunday's optional competition--the top five finishers are either college students or national team members. UCLA senior Chris Waller finished first with 56.90 points, followed by University of Nebraska freshman Trent Dimas at 56.65.
U.S. national team member and former UCLA gymnast David St. Pierre finished third at 56.35; Stanford's Conrad Voorsanger and Jair Lynch at fourth and fifth place, respectively.
The top scorers from both days are Dimas at 113.50, Waller at 113.45, and St. Pierre at 113.15.
Waller, who won the horizontal bar at the 1990 NCAA championships, drew cheers from the crowd of 250 when he scored a 9.8 in that event. But Dimas, who placed second to Waller in the high bar at the NCAA championships, got his revenge Sunday by scoring a 9.9.
Kurt Thomas, 34, withdrew from the USGF's qualifying regional at Ohio State because of a shoulder injury. Thomas was planning on making his comeback this weekend. . . . The Los Angeles Turners, the oldest gymnastics organization in California that dates to 1879, awarded $2,000 each to the gymnastic programs at UC Santa Barbara, California, San Jose State, Cal State Fullerton and Washington.