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Russia tops U.S. for gymnastics gold

August 22, 1997

CATANIA, Sicily (AP) _ A steady Russian team capitalized on a mistake by Olympic champion Shannon Miller and defeated the United States for the gold medal in women’s gymnastics at the World University Games Friday.

Russia increased a slim lead during the final apparatus rotation to total 110.537 points, to 108.986 for the U.S.

The title was essentially decided on the balance beam, where the U.S. had its lowest team score on any apparatus, 26.300. Two Americans _ Miller and Kirsti Lichey _ slipped during their routines. Miller’s disappointing score of 8.575 was the lowest of the day for the seven-time Olympic medalist.

``I just lost concentration a little. It’s just a mistake. It happens. I’ll have a chance to redeem myself tomorrow,″ said Miller, who’ll compete for the all-around individual title Saturday. Miller helped the U.S. win its first women’s Olympic team gold at Atlanta last year.

After the troubles on the beam, the U.S. regrouped on its final two events to claim the silver.

Russia was too precise and consistent, scoring between 27.512 and 27.750 on each of the four disciplines: vault, floor exercise, balance beam and the bars.

``I’ve never been so happy with a silver medal in my life. The Russians were just phenomenal. They were every bit as good as at the Olympics. Just magnificent skills,″ said U.S. coach Steve Nunno, an assistant at Atlanta and Miller’s personal coach since she was 8.

Rozalia Galieva, who was a member of the gold medal winning Unified Team at the 1992 Olympics, was joined Friday by Raissa Baikova, Alla Plechkova, Oksana Postavets and Nadejda Tarassova.

In Saturday’s individual all-around, Miller will face Galieva, who had team-highs of 9.6 on the beam and 9.35 on the bars Friday. Those scores helped Galieva lead qualifying for the all-around.

Hungarian fencer Timea Nagy took the only other gold medal awarded Friday, defeating Russia’s Karina Aznavourian 15-13 in the women’s epee final.

Three goals in the final 18 minutes rallied the U.S. soccer team past China 3-1, moving the Americans into the quarterfinals, along with traditional powers Italy, Brazil and Netherlands.

Trailing 1-0 from the 46th minute, when Qiu Zhinghui scored for China, the U.S. mounted a strong comeback. Ben Olsen scored in the 72nd and 75th minutes, giving him four goals for the tournament, and Johnny Torres clinched the victory with his third goal in three games.

The U.S. finished atop its group and will play Ireland in the quarterfinals.

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