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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 in the World University Games on Friday.

Russia increased a slim lead during the final apparatus rotation to finish with 110.537 points to 108.986 for the United States.

The title was essentially decided on the balance beam, on which the United States had its lowest team score on any apparatus, 26.300. 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 title Saturday. Miller helped the United States win its first women’s Olympic team gold at Atlanta last year.

After the troubles on the beam, the United States regrouped on its final two events to claim the silver.

During the medal ceremony after the competition, the arena lights went out for about 15 minutes. Organizers said it was due to a power failure because of heavy rain.

The storms also caused damage in Palermo, cutting electricity to the village housing part of the American delegation, and Trapani, where the start of the Brazil-Nigeria men’s basketball game was delayed 70 minutes.

The lights also went out late in the game as the United States men’s basketball team opened its quest for a fifth straight gold medal with a 110-32 rout of South Africa at Trapani. In other games, Japan surprised Russia 78-69 and Canada beat the Czech Republic 69-47.

On the women’s side, the United States beat South Korea 88-50, Italy beat South Africa 97-32, Russia beat China 101-53, the Czech Republic beat Brazil 69-42 and Cuba beat Bulgaria 100-32.

In gymnastics, Russia was too precise and consistent, scoring between 27.512 and 27.750 points in 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, a member of the Unified Team that won gold in 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 The Netherlands.

China led 1-0 on Qiu Zhinghui’s goal in the 46th minute. Ben Olsen scored in the 72nd and 75th minutes, giving him four goals for the tournament, and Johnny Torres also scored.

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