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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | GYMNASTICS

After the Rest Bow Out, Chow Gets Silver Medal

Gymnastics: U.S. team member ties for second on uneven bars. Strug scratches; Muller, Dawes strike out.

July 29, 1996|MIKE PENNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ATLANTA — Kerri Strug couldn't vault, Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes vaulted but couldn't stick a landing to save their medals, so it was up to Amy Chow and the uneven bars to prevent an American shutout in Sunday night's first round of Olympic women's individual event finals.

Chow, mostly known as the girl who was beaned by the beam during last month's Olympic trials, now has added another item to her slim biography:

Tied for silver medal, uneven bars, 1996 Olympic Games.

Chow salvaged another rough night for the U.S. women gymnasts with a 9.837 performance on the bars, giving her a share of second place with Wenjiing Bi of China. Defending world champion Svetlana Chorkina of Russia took the gold with a score of 9.85.

In the first women's event of the evening, the vault, Strug was a scratch because of her still unstable left ankle. Strug tested the ankle during warmups but was unable to attempt a practice vault and officially withdrew about an hour before the competition. She is still entered in tonight's floor exercise final and will have until 30 minutes before the event to declare if she's fit to make the attempt.

Strug's withdrawal opened a spot in the vault finals for Miller, but it was an altogether painful experience for the injury replacement. Miller landed her first vault with a great leap forward, not good, but not half as bad as her second--a slip on the mat and a fall that dragged her overall score down to 9.35. That would leave Miller eighth among eight vaulters.

Dawes placed sixth in the vault with a score of 9.649 after finishing both her attempts in identical fashion--one big lurch with the right foot for balance. Romania's Simona Amanar won the event with a score of 9.825, followed by silver medalist Mo Huilan of China (9.768) and Gina Gogean of Romania (9.75).

Chow qualified for the U.S. Olympic team last month in Boston despite a frightful spill on the balance beam while performing a backflip. Chow lost her footing on her landing, skidded off and banged the right side of her face on the beam, leaving a dark red welt.

Since then, that snippet of video has served as Chow's introduction to the American television-viewing public--at least before she came up with a highlight somewhat less difficult on the body.

Chow had just watched Dawes complete a flashy bars routine for a score of 9.8, giving Dawes the lead after four competitors. But Chorkina and Amanar, both with considerable international reputations on the bars, went next and the judges rewarded them accordingly. Solid routines earned Chorkina a 9.85 mark, Amanar a 9.787. Dawes dropped to second.

She would wind up out of the medals altogether after Chow and Bi completed the round. Chow's trademark dismount, a double-twisting double-backflip, completed a routine originally scored at 9.25, but later upgraded to 9.837 after a judge claimed to have punched the wrong button.

"I can't believe it," Chow said as the silver medal dangled from her neck. "My goal was just to make the finals."

She said she "wasn't happy with my dismount, but other than that it was OK."

Chow's coach, Mark Young, would beg to differ on that one.

"It's pretty close to the best she's ever done," Young said. "I couldn't be any happier.

"Bars is her event. I've always thought that she's one of the best bar workers in the world. And now, she has proved it."

*

TO THE SOURCE

Ioannis Melissanidis won Greece's first gymnastics medal since the 1896 Olympics. S6

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

MEDALISTS

Women's Gymnastics

VAULT

Gold: Simona Amanar, Romania

Silver: Mo Hulian, China

Bronze: Gina Gogean, Romania

UNEVEN BARS

Gold: Svetlana Chorkina, Russia

Silver: Amy Chow, United States

Bronze: Bi Wenjing, China

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

MEDALISTS

Women's Gymnastics

VAULT

Gold: Simona Amanar, Romania

Silver: Mo Hulian, China

Bronze: Gina Gogean, Romania

UNEVEN BARS

Gold: Svetlana Chorkina, Russia

Silver: Amy Chow, United States

Bronze: Bi Wenjing, China

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