Dawes tops world team qualifying GYMNASTICS


RICHMOND, Va. -- Dominique Dawes won the all-around title in the gymnastics World Team Trials last night and will lead one of the United States' strongest teams to the World Team Championships next month in Germany.

Dawes, 17, from Gaithersburg, won the all-around title with a score of 77.960. She led all eight rounds of the two-day meet at the Richmond Coliseum and last night had two scintillating performances in the uneven bars and vault.

The top six finishers from yesterday's field of 14, plus two-time world champion Shannon Miller, who did not participate, will represent the United States.

Kerri Strug, 16, of Tucson, Ariz., was second with a score of 77.140. Amanda Borden, 17, of Cincinnati was third with 76.800, followed by Amy Chow, 16, of San Jose, Calif. (76.550), Jaycie Phelps, 15, Greenfield, Ind. (76.450), and Larissa Fontaine, 16, of Deerfield, Ill. (75.570).

The U.S. team has three members of the 1992 Olympic bronze-medal squad (Dawes, Miller and Strug), a World Gymnastics Championships team member (Borden) and two young stars (Chow and Phelps).

"I think we can perhaps look for a stronger performance from this team than the one in Barcelona," said Dawes. "As I look around, I'm delighted with some of the young athletes who are hungry for a win."

Strug agreed.

"I think we'll be really strong, but I can't tell how well we will do," she said. "We have a lot of different assets and strengths, so I think we'll be well-covered."

Dawes, who won the national title seven weeks ago, was the crowd favorite here, and she left them with two nights of great performances, including two last night.

She drew a 9.9 mark in the uneven bars, highlighted by a 1 1/2 twist on the high bar, and then earned a 9.9 with a 1 1/2 full twist in the vault.

Dawes' only glaring mistake was almost falling off the balance beam after completing a front somersault. She still managed a 9.575 score.

"I had difficulty with the beam, and I didn't do as well as I could have on the floor," said Dawes. "But I was satisfied with everything else."

Strug and Fontaine were elated to make the team after being injured just months before the meet.

Strug missed the nationals because of a strained back. Fontaine had four bone chips removed from her right elbow in July. Neither had competed until the start of this meet on Saturday.

"I didn't come here to win anything except a spot on the team," said Strug. "I was pretty happy with my accomplishment."

The meet may have lost some of its luster because Miller did not compete. She finished second to Dawes in the nationals but said she was tired from "overuse." Since her nationals score of 77.760 was in the top five here (actually second), she was given a spot on the team.

"It was awkward not having her here," said Strug. "But she has proven herself many, many times. I don't think she has to compete. She definitely deserves a spot on the team."

"Her not being here doesn't take anything away from me," said Dawes. "I don't compete against her. I always compete against myself, to be the best that I can be."

1. Dominique Dawes, Gaithersburg, 77.960. 2. Kerri Strug, Tucson, Ariz., 77.140. 3. Amanda Borden, Cincinnati, 76.800. 4. Amy Chow, San Jose, Calif., 76.550. 5. Jaycie Phelps, Greenfield, Ind., 76.450. 6. Larissa Fontaine, Deerfield, Ill., 75.570. 7. Kara Fry, Nazareth, Pa., 74.900. 8. Kellee Davis, Cambria Heights, N.Y., 74.120. 9. Summer Reid, Reno, Nev., 73.440. 10. Ashley Kever, Austin, Texas, 73.270. 11. Kristin McDermott, Allentown, Pa., 73.030. 12. Amanda Curry, Katy, Texas, 72.570. 13. Jenni Beathard, Altamonte Springs, Fla., 72.500. 14. Sarah Balogach, Allentown, Pa., 72.420.

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