12-Nation Gymnastic Meet Here

New York Times, March 27, 1976   Vladimir Smolevsky, a Soviet gymnastics coach, watched with pleasure as 14-year-old Elena Davydova of the Soviet Union launched herself from the floor into a double twist, without the aid of a spotter.  The 4-foot-8-inch, 73-pound youngster was preparing for the American Cup international gymnastics competition today and tomorrow at Madison Square Garden.

"The best age is 13, 14 to 18 -- no more," said Smolevsky.  "It is very difficult gymnastics now.  Too much acrobatics.  After 18, 19, there is more weight and other problems like marriage."

This weekend's gymnastics exhibition by 19 competitors representing 12 nations promises to be a children's game in the women's division.  Nadia Comaneci of Rumania, a sprightly 14-year-old ranked first in the world, is the meet favorite.

The top-ranked United States woman gymnast, 17-year-old Ann Carr, was forced to withdraw after suffering a sprained ankle in practice Thursday.  Kathy Howard, a 17-year-old from Oklahoma City, was her replacement.

All competitors will participate in the entire program of individual events: five [sic] events for the women and six for the men.  Survivors of today's qualifying round, which begins at 2 P.M., will advance to tomorrow's final round, beginning at 1 P.M.  There will be no team scoring.

In the men's division, Mitsuo Tsukahara of Japan, the 1972 Olympic champion in high bar and bronze-medal winner on the rings, is the meet's strongest male competitor.  His top challengers will be Dan Grecu of Rumania, world champion on the rings, and Andrzej Szajna or Poland, the European champion in the floor exercise.

"Tsukahara is not good," said Szajna.  "He is great"  The American challenger will be 17-year-old Bart Conner.

This page was created on October 9, 2004.
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