Gymnast Fifth After Reprieve

By James Tuite

New York Times, March 8, 1982   Time and fortune ran out yesterday for a Cinderella in leotards.

Gina Stallone, a last-minute replacement in the American Cup gymnastics competition, had been mistakenly eliminated in the trials Saturday because of a scoring error and then restored at midnight by the judges.  But she finished only fifth in the championship round when an American teammate and a Bulgarian tied for first place.

Julianne McNamara, the 16-year-old 1980 national titleholder and the defending cup champion from Eugene, Ore., finished tied at 38.65 points with Zoya Grancharova, a shy 15-year-old from Legsku.

The men's cup went to Bart Conner of Norman, Okla., for the second consecutive year when the former Olympian, a week before his 24th birthday, broke out of a tie with Aleksandr Pogorelov of the Soviet Union with a 9.90 performance on the final horizontal bar event.

Pogorelov dropped to 9.40 on the bar and landed in third place overall when another American, Peter Vidmar of Los Angeles, duplicated Conner's 9.9 and took second.  Conner finished with 58.70, Vidmar with 58.65 and Pogorelov with 58.20.

But many cheers in the Madison Square Garden crowd of 10,094 were for Miss Stallone, who had rushed on a Trailways bus to New York from Allentown, Pa., after being summoned to replace the 22-year-old American, Kathy Johnson, who had a virus.

After Miss Stallone had been eliminated in the trials, the judges found that it was Tracee Talavera, the current national titleholder from Eugene, Ore.,  who should have been dropped under a rule that limits the host team to two qualifiers.  Because of the circumstances, both were allowed to participate yesterday.

Miss Talavera took third place with 38.40 points, ahead of Tang Xiaoli of China with 38.30 and Miss Stallone, who seemed to be getting stronger with each event, with 38.20.

Miss Stallone, whose parents took second jobs to finance her gymnastics career, had just returned early Sunday from the Broadway show "Dancin' " when she was told that Miss Talavera had been given an extra tenth of a point in error.

"I quick ran and did my hair," Miss Stallone said.

Miss McNamara had fewer combinations than Miss Talavera in the uneven bars, but her work was so clean that it earned one of the two 9.90 scores attained by the women and tied the meet record set by Nadia Comaneci in 1976.  Miss Grancharova got the other 9.90 in the floor exercise, a score that moved her ahead of Miss Talavera in the final standing.

There were five 9.90 scores by the men, all in the horizontal bar final, but Pogorelov did not get one and thereby missed his shot at the title.  He did tie the vaulting record of 9.80 for the second day in a row by getting a little more height.  The mark was set by Li Yuejiu of China last year.

Displaying great power and lots of stretch, Pogorelov won cheers for his handsprings and double front in a pipe position.  He had 9.60 or better in every event except the horizontal bar.

Miss McNamara showed her mastery of the giant swings and movements that so long had been dominated by the men, though hers were less dynamic.  She dropped to 9.65 on the beam with too much hesitation between difficult elements, displaying obvious caution.

The effervescent Conner, who first won the Cup in 1976, was able to laugh when he thought about going into the final event tied with Pogorelov.  "I remembered that this was where I landed on my nose yesterday," he said.


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