Advertisement
  1. Archive

The Big Event // INTERNATIONAL BATTLE

WHAT: Men's gymnastics all-around finals.

WHEN: TV coverage begins at 7:30 p.m.

THE VETERAN: Vitaly Scherbo, who won the all-around in one of a record six gold medal performances at the 1992 Olympics, almost didn't make it to Atlanta. He nearly gave up gymnastics last winter when his wife, Irina, was critically injured in a car accident near their home in Pennsylvania.

Irina was given a 1 percent chance of survival. Scherbo nearly forgot about gymnastics, even though he was favored to win a second all-around title in Atlanta. He stayed near her bedside and considered quitting, but when she awoke from her coma she insisted that he head back to the gym.

Scherbo, 24, has bounced back nicely (as has Irina). In April, at the world championships individual event finals, he won gold in the floor exercise, silver on the parallel bars and bronze on the high bar. He is the most decorated gymnast in history, with six Olympic and 23 world championship medals.

In the team competition, he was the second-highest individual, behind Russia's Alexei Nemov.

THE NEWCOMER: Nemov, 19, is considered one of the most daring gymnasts in the world. When he completes all his tricks _ which he did during the team competition _ he nearly is impossible to beat.

The Olympics could be his coming-out party. Nemov won the 1994 Goodwill Games and had the best optional total at the 1995 world championships but didn't qualify for the all-around competition.

THE REST: Li Xiaoshuang of China is considered the biggest competition for Nemov and Scherbo. Li had the third-highest score in the team competition and is the world champion.

Among Americans, experienced John Roethlisberger _ back for his second Olympics _ has the best shot at an all-around medal. He had the fifth-highest score in the team events.

But Roethlisberger fell from the pommel horse during the team optionals and blamed himself for the United States' failure to medal. He was inconsolable after the competition, and must regroup before today's event.

Joining him in the all-around finals are teammates Blaine Wilson (12th in team events) and John Macready (33rd).

_ SHARON GINN

Gymnasts

to watch

ALEXEI NEMOV: Russia, tops in team competition.

VITALY SCHERBO: Belarus, six-time gold medalist in '92.

LI XIAOSHUANG: China, world champion.

ALEXEI VOROPAEV: Russia.

JOHN ROETHLISBERGER: U.S.

JORDAN JOVTCHEV: Bulgaria.

BLAINE WILSON: U.S.

JOHN MACREADY: U.S.

Past winners

1992: Vitaly Scherbo, Belarus, 59.025.

1988: Vladimir Artemov, Soviet Union, 119.125.

1984: Koji Gushiken, Japan, 118.700.

1980: Aleksandr Dityatin, Soviet Union, 118.65.

1976: Nikolai Andrianov, Soviet Union, 116.65.

1972: Sawao Kato, Japan, 114.65.

1968: Sawao Kato, Japan, 115.90.

1964: Yukio Endo, Japan, 115.95.

1960: Borys Shakhlin, Soviet Union, 115.95.

1956: Viktor Chukarin, Soviet Union, 114.25.

About

the sport

Men's gymnastics consists of six events: floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar. In the all-around, the top 36 men from the team competition advance, with a limit of three per country. Athletes complete optional routines in all six events; the top combined score wins.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement