- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008

Gymnastics

SCHEDULE

Aug. 9-19

FINAL EVENTS LINEUP

Aug. 9: Men’s team qualifying (United States is at 12:01 a.m.)

Aug 10: Women’s team qualifying (United States is at 1:30 a.m.)

Aug. 12: Men’s team finals (10 p.m., Aug. 11 EDT)

Aug. 13: Women’s team finals (10:15 p.m., Aug. 12 EDT)

Aug. 14: Men’s all-around finals (11 p.m., Aug. 13 EDT)

Aug. 15: Women’s all-around finals (11:15 p.m., Aug. 14 EDT)

Aug. 16: Men’s and women’s trampoline qualifying (11 p.m., Aug. 15 EDT)

Aug. 17: Event finals - men’s floor and pommel horse, women’s floor and vault (6 a.m.)

Aug. 18: Event finals - men’s rings and vault, women’s uneven bars (6 a.m.)

Aug. 18: Women’s trampoline final (6 a.m.)

Aug. 19: Men’s parallel bars and high bar, women’s balance beam (6 a.m.)

Aug. 19: Men’s trampoline final (6 a.m.)

OUTLOOK

Men: The Americans sustained a tough blow last week when defending all-around gold medalist Paul Hamm dropped out of the Olympics with hand and rotator cuff injuries. Without Hamm’s versatility, it will prove difficult for the team to match or improve upon its 2004 silver medal. Jonathan Horton is the United States’ best hope in the all-around, Kevin Tan is solid on the rings and Burke’s Justin Spring was impressive at trials on the parallel bars and high bar. China is the favorite in the team competition despite a fifth-place finish in Athens. The Chinese also will be favored to win several individual medals, led by all-around favorite Yang Wei. China also could sweep the trampoline competition.

Women: The Americans proved last year they could win a team title on the road, capturing the world championships in Germany - the first for the program. The Shawn Johnson-led team defeated China by .95 points. Johnson is the reigning individual world champion and is also a candidate to win two individual medals. Like every member of the American team, Johnson is an Olympic rookie. China is led by Yang Yilin. The other U.S. medal hopefuls are Nastia Liukin, who has handed Johnson her only all-around loss in senior competition, and Alicia Sacramone (vault and floor). Russia is favored to claim two medals in rhythmic gymnastics, and China’s Huang Shanshan is the host country’s best hope in trampoline.

ATHLETES TO WATCH

ALICIA SACRAMONE

Country: United States (Winchester, Mass.)

Age: 20

Events: Team competition plus (projected) vault and floor

About Sacramone: Narrowly left off the Athens team, she represents the leadership of this year’s U.S. squad. At last year’s worlds, her floor exercise routine helped cap a comeback team victory. She won a silver on floor and bronze on vault later in the event. A student at Brown, she competed collegiately as a freshman before turning pro.

YANG WEI

Country: China (Beijing)

Age: 28

Events: Team, all-around and several individual events

About Yang: When Paul Hamm fell on his vault during the Athens all-around finals, the gold was Yang’s to lose. And he lost it, falling on the high bar and into seventh place. But Yang has bounced back to win the all-around in the last two world championships, the first man to do so in 80 years. Yang is the individual favorite and could win medals in the pommel horse and rings.

NASTIA LIUKIN

Country: United States (Parker, Texas)

Age: 18

Events: Team, all-around and individual events

About Liukin: A medal contender on the balance beam and uneven bars, Liukin also could reach the medal stand in the all-around if she hits her routines. She won the American Cup on March 1 - defeating Shawn Johnson - but had an up-and-down final night at trials, finishing third in scores posted during that session. The pedigree is there; her father and coach was an Olympian for the Soviets in 1988 and won two golds.

- Ryan O’Halloran

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