toolbar builder everlyrich

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Liukin struggles while Wieber and Douglas lead trials

Nastia Liukin, one of the stars of the Beijing Games four years ago, saw her chances of making the 2012 Olympic team take a big hit Friday. / By Kyle Terada, US Presswire
SAN JOSE - Before returning to competition this summer for the first time in nearly three years, Nastia Liukin said she didn't want to spend the summer thinking about the what-ifs.
"When Aug. 12 comes I didn't want to have any regrets," Liukin said about the Olympic gymnastics finals in London.
During her first event during the Olympic trials on Friday, the uneven bars, Liukin seemingly ran out of steam as she prepared for her dismount. With knees bent, she struggled then fell.
Just minutes into the competition, 1996 Olympic gold medalist Shannon Miller, who was doing play-by-play in the arena, said that routine likely put her off the team. Next, Liukin struggled with her endurance on the beam, her only other event, likely proving Miller's prediction true. She finished 10th on bars and seventh on beam.
"Basically, she ran out of gas," said her father and coach, Valeri.
Liukin has also battled shoulder issues during her comeback. "You don't really think about it," Liukin said before trials began. "You push through and take some pain killers and you're good."
Even if Sunday is Liukin's final competition, she said she's proud she gave it one last shot, no matter the outcome. "Whether or not this is my last competition, I'm excited to be here," said Liukin, the 2008 all-around Olympic gold medalist.
As Liukin struggled, the two favorites continued to shine. Jordyn Wieber led after day one, a slight .3 ahead of Gabby Douglas. Aly Raisman, Elizabeth Price and Kyla Ross rounded out the top five.
Wieber and Douglas, both 16, are expected to contend for the individual all-around gold medal. The winner of the women's all-around at trials automatically earns a spot on the five-member Olympic team; the remaining spots will be determined after the competition ends Sunday. Wieber and Douglas are all but assured a spot on a deep U.S. squad that will be favored to win its first Olympic team gold since 1996.
"My main goal is to hit four strong routines so I have a few spots to work on," Wieber said, pointing out a few missed connections on beam.
Douglas' nickname is the "Flying Squirrel" because of her breathtaking skills on uneven bars. She was able to overcome a small, uncharacteristic misstep on her signature event by fighting through it, a sign of her burgeoning confidence and mental fortitude.
"I do want it badly," she said of first place. "I try not to think about it. I want it but I just kinda have to back off (the thought) a little."
During her floor routine, Douglas turned the arena into Club Gabby as the crowd clapped along to the music. Douglas said her music, entitled, "We Speak No Americano," suits her personality. "I can show off my moves, like ooh, yeah," she said, shimmying as she spoke.
At the end of the competition, a fan gave Douglas a flying squirrel stuffed animal. Afterward, she patted the squirrel on the head and posed for a few pictures with it. Does he have a name yet?
"Squirrelly?" she offered.
It wasn't a good night for 2008 Olympians. With tear-filled eyes, Bridget Sloan said her goodbyes to her national team career Friday. During warmups on the uneven bars, Sloan injured her elbow and had to withdraw from competition, ending her hopes for London next month.
"I'm definitely a fighter and I don't like to go down without a fight," Sloan said. "I wanted to keep going but …" Sloan was scheduled to receive an MRI on her elbow, which was initially diagnosed as sprained.
"It's a little hard," she said. "You work so hard and your body doesn't just hold up."
Sloan next plans to compete for the University of Florida and doesn't expect the injury to sideline those plans. "I'll be fine," she said. "I will win the NCAAs. I plan on going down to school and taking names. I had a great career. No regrets."
Of six U.S. women on 2008 Olympic gymnastics team that won silver in Beijing, five attempted to make a comeback for the 2012 London Games. Now, that number is down to two.
Sloan, who won the all-around title at the 2009 world championships, has been hampered by injuries have the past two years. Sloan finished 10th in the all-around this month at nationals and was considered somewhat of a longshot for the Olympic team.
Others 2008 Olympians whose comebacks were cut short: Shawn Johnson (retired due to injuries) and Chellsie Memmel (did not advance to nationals). Left in the mix are Liukin and Alicia Sacramone, who is coming back from a torn Achilles. Sacramone competed on vault and beam, finishing sixth and third respectively.

No comments:

Post a Comment