Miller wins three more medals Zmeskal shut out in apparatus finals BARCELONA 92

August 02, 1992|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

BARCELONA, Spain -- OK, so she's not Mary Lou Retton. She doesn't sparkle while tumbling. She doesn't smile on cue. She doesn't leap into the arms of a coach.

All Shannon Miller does is pile up medals in a Summer Olympics without a boycott.

Last night, the 4-foot-9, 73-pound gymnast who wears heart-shaped diamond earrings and performs with a grimace on her face took away one silver and two bronzes in the women's individual apparatus final.

With a silver in the all-around and a bronze in the team competition, Miller finished with five medals, tying Retton's American record set in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

If she were a country, the 15-year-old from Edmond, Okla., would crack the top-20 medal count. Apparently, that's a statistic that hits home even in Sooner country.

When Miller arrives via charter at Dulles Airport near Washington on Tuesday, she will be met by a Lear jet that will whisk her to a hometown celebration in Edmond. Even Oklahoma Gov. David Walters plans to greet the state's newest star.

"Shannon is bigger than any Oklahoma University national football champion," said Miller's choreographer, Peggy Liddick.

It was a night for 10s and makeup calls, as judges handed out medals like so many consolation prizes.

Lu Li of China received the first 10 of the Olympics when she won the gold on the uneven bars. An hour later, Romanian teen-ager Lavinia Milosovici, who watched "Rocky III" for inspiration, performed a floor routine to "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B," and got a 10 and a gold.

Henrietta Onodi, the elegant Hungarian stylist who usually wilts under the stress of competition, won the vault with a 9.925. Tatiana Lysenko of Ukraine won the balance beam with a 9.975.

About the only prize they didn't hand out was a lifetime achievement award. Kim Zmeskal of Houston and Svetlana Boginskaya of Belarus were sent toward retirement without any individual medals.

Zmeskal, 16, expected to contend for the all-around gold. Instead, after a fall off the balance beam in the team competition, and a stumble out of bounds in the all-around, she takes home one team bronze medal.

"I'm happy the team got a bronze and I'm proud and happy for Shannon," a teary-eyed Zmeskal said.

The night also marked the retirement from competition of Zmeskal's coach, Bela Karolyi.

"I saw kids eaten up and torn apart and I said, 'That's enough,' " Karolyi said last night, reaffirming his declaration that he would step aside from team competitions.

For the first time in memory, Karolyi actually sat down during a meet, a sign that a reign -- his and Zmeskal's -- was over.

"I used every trick I know from 30 years of coaching to motivate Kim, but I was fighting with windmills," Karolyi said.

Zmeskal flopped on her behind on a second vault. And she likely ended her competitive career with her familiar "Rock Around the Clock," floor exercise routine. But once again, she stumbled at the end of a tumbling pass, and the judges kept her off a crowded medal podium.

While all-around champion Tatiana Gutsu of Ukraine, Cristina Bontas of Romania and Miller were given scores of 9.912 and matching bronzes, Zmeskal received a 9.900.

"Kim has the most dynamic floor routine," Karolyi said. "It had everything in it but the heart."

The night, at least for the Americans, belonged to Miller. Five months after breaking a bone chip loose from her left elbow in a fall from the uneven bars, Miller is now the pre-eminent U.S. gymnast of her generation.

"I'm proud of all the medals," said Miller, who received a silver on the balance beam and another bronze on the uneven bars. "I was focused on the competition."

Miller said she wants to stay in the sport and lead the United States into the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. But her coach, Steve Nunno, said competing in two Olympics, in a tumbling age dominated by teen-agers, would be difficult.

"If anyone can do it, Shannon can," he said. "She has survived a lot."

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