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U.S. Teen Kupets Wins Gym Title

November 23, 2002

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DEBRECEN, Hungary (AP) _ Courtney Kupets won the women’s uneven bars at the 36th Gymnastics World Championships on Saturday to become the first American in more than 20 years to win the title.

The 16-year-old Kupets scored 9.550 points to beat World Cup champion Iona Petrovschi of Romania and Lyudmila Eyova of Russia, and end Svetana Khorkina’s streak of five straight titles.

``This is the happiest day of my life,″ Kupets said. ``I’ve just heard that the last time a U.S. gymnast won a gold medal was Marcia Fredericks in 1978. I was born eight years later.

``In the summer, I completely redid my routine because I knew that I would only have a chance against (Svetlana) Khorkina with a very special routine.″

Khorkina fell twice from the apparatus during her routine and finished seventh.

In the only other women’s final Saturday, Elena Zamolodchikova of Russia won the vault.

Zamolodchikova, the current Olympic champion in the vault and floor exercise, used a poor showing in floor exercise Friday as inspiration in the final of the vault.

European champion Natalia Ziganshina of Russia was a close second, and former world champion Uzbek Oxana Chusovitina placed third.

``All I had before my eyes was victory, especially after my mistake on Friday which cost me a place in the finals of the floor event,″ Zamolodchikova said. ``I’m satisfied not only with the result but also with the quality of my jumps.″

In the men’s competition, Olympic champion Szilveszter Csollany won the rings, ending his streak of five silver medals in world championships.

Jordan Jovtchev of Bulgaria failed to defend his world title, finishing second. Matteo Morandi of Italy was third on the rings.

``I was not competing against Jovtchev or anybody,″ Csollany said. ``I always just stick to my routine and this time it was worth the gold medal.″

In the men’s floor event, Marian Dragulescu of Romania defended his title with a score of 9.712. European champion Gervasio Deferr of Spain was second and Jovtchev was third.

Olympic, world and European champion Marius Urzica won the pommel horse with 9.787 points. Qin Xiao of China was second and Takehiro Kashima of Japan placed third.

The championships conclude on Sunday with finals in the women’s balance beam and floor exercise, and the men’s vault, parallel bars and high bar.

Update hourly