Were the Mag 7 favored to win the gold in 1996?

Sorry if this is a redundant topic, but I wasn’t around the gymternet back then. What I’ve read about it on Youtube discussions, is that the results were a bit surprising.

Also, who else had the greatest outside shot of joining the U.S. team? Kulikowski?

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Yes. The US ladies were favored to potentially win gold in Atlanta especially after all of the injuries to Romania.
However, a few months before the games Romania or China were the favorites with gymnastics experts/ former gymnasts predicting either for gold in the Sports Illustrated Olympic Preview I think 1 or 2 or people picked USA for gold. But most picked them for bronze. A few didn’t even have USA winning a medal with Russia grabbing team bronze. I think Paul Ziert called USA for the win but I am going on memory here from 25 years ago LOL.

In gymnastics, going first is no honor, but that is exactly what the Romanians will do when the Olympic women’s competition begins on Monday with the compulsories.

It is a nasty draw for a team that has won the last two world titles. Gymnastics scores have a nagging tendency to inflate as a day progresses. But in reality, the draw may be the least of the Romanian worries.

It’s not easy to get to the first place, but it’s even harder to stay in the first place," said Octavian Belu, the mustachioed and occasionally embattled coach who has held the Romanian team together in the wake of massive political change.

The Romanians have health worries: two stars recovering from injuries and a lesser light, Anamaria Bican, who suffered a knee injury on Saturday that will keep her out of the Olympics. They have technical worries: their performance in compulsories during today’s podium training was competent but hardly dazzling with the exception of the vault.

Above all, the Romanians have crowd worries, as the 22,373 people who paid to watch today’s dress rehearsal in the Georgia Dome made abundantly clear. There were smatterings of applause for the Romanians in the morning; smatterings more for Svetlana Boguinskaya and the Belarussians in the early afternoon and nothing but a roar when the seven American women who hope to become gold medalists filed into the arena.

Amanda Borden, the team captain, was visibly moved. Podium training is normally conducted before a handful of officials and bystanders, not before thousands of fans willing to pay for the privilege (tickets were $11 or $22 and most fans paid $22).

"I have to say that when I first walked out, I was going ‘Whoa,’ " Borden said. “I felt that the tears could have come if I would have let them.”

But Borden and company kept their composure and proceeded to perform a series of compulsories that were not flawless but certainly more polished and dynamic than the Romanians’ performances. The Chinese and Russians later would look strong in the day’s final session.

“We’ve definitely got our hands full, but we’ve got a great chance for a medal,” said Steve Nunno, Shannon Miller’s coach.

Miller, the national champion whose injured left wrist kept her out of the Olympic trials, was still not her sharpest despite declaring herself “pretty much pain-free.” She broke rhythm doing a pirouette on uneven bars, then botched her mount on beam. But the rest was solid, and barring some late-night haggling, it appears the American compulsory lineup is now set. Miller, Dominique Dawes, Jaycie Phelps, Kerri Strug and 14-year-old Dominique Moceanu, who looked good today, will perform in every event (and incidentally stay in contention for the all-around final). Amy Chow and Borden will be used where needed.

But though many of the cognoscenti gathered around the podium today were giving the early edge to the Americans, the Americans and everyone else still have to get past the Romanians.

They have been on top since 1994, when they won the world team championship in Germany. And with Lavinia Milosovici and Gina Gogean (both returning Olympians), Simona Amanar and 15-year-old Alexandra Marinescu, they have four gymnasts with established international reputations.

Both Milosovici and Gogean have had health problems recently. Milosovici sprained her right ankle last month and had to miss several days of training, which is a major break by Romanian standards. Gogean fell ill in June and had to have an appendectomy. She missed 12 days of practice, a sabbatical by Romanian standards.

But both performed quite respectably on the podium today. The only trace of their duress was the elastic support on Milosovici’s ankle. The missing Romanian was Bican, a 16-year-old who tore knee ligaments vaulting on Saturday. Her injury means the Romanian team will enter competition with six gymnasts instead of the seven their rivals will have available.

“We are in a difficult moment now without an alternate,” Belu said.

In truth, it is not a major blow. Only six gymnasts from a team can compete on each apparatus anyway (the top five scores count). But the injury does deprive Belu of a certain tactical flexibility. He had planned to use Bican, a former bronze medalist in the European junior championships, on compulsory beam and in three optional events.

Now he must hope that his other six gymnasts stay healthy and that the loud Georgia Dome crowd does not prove too influential. Belu remembers all too well what happened the last time he brought his team to the United States for a major meet. It was in 1991 for the world championships in Indianapolis. The Americans edged his team for the silver, and Belu still believes that suspect judging was the explanation.

“I had a bad experience,” he said. “But I think the American team is good enough now that they don’t need to use other methods to win.”

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Once Bican was out. I don’t think there was an out and out favourite before that, was there?

Yes, they were favoured to win Olympic Gold in 1996, especially thanks to Dawes, Miller, and Moceanu.

José M.

Yes a few months before Atlanta, Romania was heavily favored to win gold.

Based on the top team optionals performance in Sabae, China had turned heads as well.

Going into the Olympics it was pretty settled that if teams hit well that Romania and China would be fighting for gold with the US in the hunt but likely fending off Russia for bronze.

Russia was definitely the surprise after they won compulsories.

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Amazing how much better the US team was in Atlanta vs. Sabae just by getting Dawes back. Healthy Borden and Chow helped, too.

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Massively.

It was a weird one that quad because the US were vastly injury depleted in 94 and 95 which Romania were able to take advantage of, then they managed to get their full team out in 96 when Romania were absolutely battered by injuries. One of the great unanswered questions how a proper match up would’ve gone.

I’d agree nobody really saw Russia coming. Even so, my feeling is that a full strength Romania would’ve been well ahead of them and up there with the US. Actually just a 7 person Romanian team would probably have got silver. Bican would only have needed about 9.8 on optional vault to make the difference up. Plus the US and Romania were both more sympathetically scored than Russia in Atlanta generally, and there seems no reason to think that would’ve been any different if Romania had been at or close to full strength.

eta- I overestimated, 9.75 for Bican on optional vault would’ve done it.

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Looking at the Sabae scores…Mary Beth Arnold (except for bars) and Theresa Kulikowski were massively underwhelming.

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Fair to say Mary Beth Arnold wouldn’t have got near a first choice team.

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Funny thing: Arnold finished 6th at Nationals (with Dawes in attendance), while Kulikowski was way down in 14th!

There was actually a trials for worlds in 1995, results were:
Moceanu
Miller
Phelps (who used 100% of her championships score to petition)
Dawes
Chow
Thompson
Kulikowski
Arnold
Pickens

Dawes withdrew, and Chow sprained her ankle.

Arnold acquitted herself better than Kulikowski, imo. She competed 6 routines (compulsory VT and UB, then AA in optionals) and 3 of her scores counted. Kulikowski did 4 routines (compulsory VT, BM, FX and optional FX) and only had 1 score count.

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What a bizarre turn of events.

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I went down a rabbit hole. 1995 world team trials! (I’ve not watched it, I have no idea how many routines are actually shown)

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I loved Miller’s gainer to one foot! After I saw that, I put that in my imaginary routine lol

Thanks for the responses!

Amanda Borden really did seem to be the best choice for that last spot. Speaking of Borden, and sort of a random question, but is there video of her displaying the 93-96 compulsories?

If ya’ll want to see some hilarious domestic overscoring, watch the video I posted. Fun times. My personal favorite is Miller getting a 9.9 on floor. Even considering 1995 code, there’s no way landing two passes that short and the resulting noticeable lunges forward warrant a nine-freaking-nine!

(how she had remotely functional ankles by 1996 is beyond me)

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Having Dawes and Chow there bumped up VT and UB substantially, not to mention Dawes on BB and FX. Borden’s lead off BB was obviously very much needed to set the tone for that event, especially since compulsories was a bit shaky.

In 1996, the only one I can think of who might have been able to add something to the team was Powell on VT and FX but she took herself out quick with an optional BB fall at Nationals and then collapsed at Olympic Trials.

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Miller was always quite good at cover lunge/staggers. I’m not saying she wasn’t grossly overscored at times, but I feel like she was one of the more convincing exponents of the genre. In that link you posted she bounds forward out of a pikey as shit Hristakieva, and points her toes while she does it. Those were the days.

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Miller managed to look beautiful even when she was making errors. Like she would fall on beam and her hands and toes would look better than anybody else looked when they stayed on.

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Oh def!
Miller was someone that captivated judges, she was the original cool as ice competitor for the US. When she did screw up she was extremely hard on herself. Such a perfectionist!

She did have the execution and lines the judges loved as evidenced by her 1st place after compulsories in Barcelona and 2nd place after compulsories in Atlanta.

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Were the Ukrainians majorly underscored at these Games? I’ve seen that opinion shared in a few places and I’m no code expert.