Cathy Voted Berth

By John Dixon

Roxanne Pierce was pirouetting for joy after scoring a surprise victory in the women's gymnastics Olympic Trials Saturday night, but the happiest girl in Long Beach Arena was a spectator, Cathy Rigby.

Miss Rigby, Long Beach SCATS, pulled a tendon in the arch of her right foot in Friday's final event, the floor exercise.

"We had to take her to the hospital at 1 o'clock this morning," her coach, Bud Marquette, said.

Despite Cathy's entreaties, Dr. Robert Woods, the Dodgers' team physician, refused to let her participate in Saturday's climactic events, fearing permanent injury to her foot.

Seven years of work, of dreams -- the Munich Olympiad in August -- appeared to disintegrate in one lightening flash of pain.

"I heard something pop on my first tumbling pass," she explained between sobs Saturday afternoon.

Although regulations permit only the first six qualifiers in the Trials to represent the U.S. in Munich, Vannie Edwards, chairman of the Olympic gymnastics committee, petitioned U.S. Olympic headquarters to make an exception in the case of Miss Rigby, who was leading the competition when injured.

"The women's Olympic committee has reviewed its plan for selecting the U.S. team," said Edwards.  "There was no injury clause per se in its original format.  Nevertheless, the committee retains the right, when circumstances call for review, to entertain such a plan.  Miss Rigby will be awarded a place on the team."

Edwards told this newspaper, "I don't see how anyone can question the decision.  She participated in three-fourths of the competition and was first or second all the way."

Tears turned to smiles.  Cathy said, "I'm very relieved.  I didn't know what to expect from the committee.  I hope to start working on bars in a few days, and other events in three weeks."

Miss Pierce was third behind Miss Rigby and co-favorite Linda Metheny of Urbana, Ill., through the first three days of competition.  But Saturday the 17-year-old turned in a tremendous series of 9.6 points (of a possible 10.0) in vault, 9.7 in uneven bars, 9.3 in balance beam and 9.55 in floor exercise.

"I'm surprised to win," Roxanne laughed.  "I expected to finish about third.  This gives me a lot of confidence for Munich, but there's no telling how well I'll do there.  But this wasn't my biggest thrill.  Winning four gold medals in the Pan American Games is bigger."

Miss Metheny, a two-time Olympian, scored only 9.4 in the vault and 9.05 on the bars in disappointing afternoon performances to lose the lead to Roxanne.

But she fought back, scoring 9.6 on the beam.  Knowing she had to score a virtually impossible 9.95 to tie for the title, Linda was awarded 9.75, highest score of the four days of competition, as the crown of 7,681 gave her -- and perhaps the judges -- a rousing ovations.

This page was created on February 05, 2006.
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