Ray delivers injury scare in floor routine

But shoulder seems fine

U.S. second in qualifying

September 17, 2000|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

SYDNEY, Australia - It was on the first tumbling pass of her first floor exercise of her first Summer Olympics early today when Elise Ray felt a twinge in her left shoulder.

"It popped out," said Ray, 18, of Columbia. "No big deal."

Ray recovered, fought through her routine and went on to lead the U.S. team back from a shaky start to a second-place finish behind China in a qualifying round.

Gymnastics powers Russia, Ukraine and Romania, plus outsider Spain, were still due to perform as teams tried to land in the final six for Tuesday's team finals.

Ray's twinge provided a fright as she continued her routine and landed outside the border on a pass. As she left the mat and joined her coach, Kelli Hill, she said, "I hurt my shoulder."

But after a quick examination, she went back into the competition and performed terrifically on the uneven bars, scoring 9.687.

A few minutes after the competition, Ray appeared relaxed and showed no signs of any injury or discomfort.

"It feels fine now," she said.

U.S. team coordinator Bela Karolyi said Ray will continue to compete.

"It's a pretty good indication it's not a major injury performing on bar the way she did," he said. "I knew something wasn't right when she landed out of the border on a simple tumbling series. Then there was a little commotion and I saw Kelli's eyes big and wide."

Hill said the team has "more work to do" to try to contend for a medal.

"The girls worked out so well and trained so well," she said. "I have no idea what happened. We'll figure it out."

Karolyi, who was in the stands, was not at all happy with the U.S performance and said, "There is fire needed down there, particularly in this situation."

Ray sounded confident that the team would perform better in coming days.

"We have a couple of things to fix here," she said. `We did an excellent job."

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