Scherbo sounds off as China's Li takes men's all-around victory Belarussian blames judges for third-place finish

Atlanta Olympics

July 25, 1996|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- The difference between gymnasts Alexi Nemov and Vitaly Scherbo in the men's all-around competition of the 1996 Olympic Games yesterday was a matter of where their fingers were pointed.

Nemov blamed himself for losing the gold medal to Li Xiaoshuang of China by less than five one-hundredths of a point, while Scherbo put the burden of his bronze medal directly on the pTC judges.

Nemov, a 20-year-old Russian considered the sport's rising star, removed a key element of his final routine, the floor exercise. It not only lowered his start value to less than the usual 10.0, but he also wound up seeing his gold medal turn to silver when he received a 9.7 for his efforts.

"I surprisingly didn't do the middle connection [pass] and I lost a half of a point and very possibly the gold medal," said Nemov, whose score of 58.374 was .049 behind Li and .177 ahead of Scherbo. "But I am not upset."

Scherbo couldn't contain his disappointment in not winning the gold medal, his disdain for the man who followed him as Olympic champion as well as his disgust for the way Li was scored.

"I was a little bit upset, not with how the judges judged me, but how they judged some of my closest competitors," said Scherbo, 24, a Belarussian who now lives near State College, Pa. Scherbo took six gold medals with the Unified Team at 1992 Games.

The three American men in the all-around competition performed more than respectably. John Roethlisberger, a four-time national champion, was seventh overall, while reigning NCAA and national champion Blaine Wilson was 10th. In the event finals, Wilson qualified for the still rings and Jair Lynch for the parallel bars.

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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