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Indiana's Peszek places 4th at VISA Championships

Posted by kim carpenter on June 9, 2008
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BOSTON — Barring injury, three of six spots on the United States women’s gymnastics team might be secured for the Beijing Olympics.

Indianapolis-area gymnasts Samantha Peszek and Bridget Sloan remain in contention for two of the three remaining places.

Shawn Johnson repeated as national champion in the Visa Championships, holding off Nastia Liukin.

Johnson scored 64.05 points Saturday for an all-around total of 127.50. Liukin could only trim Johnson’s lead by 0.15 and finished second with 126.50.

Chellsie Memmel, the 2005 world champion who is coming back from a major shoulder injury, was a surprising third at 123.15.

Alicia Sacramone, captain of last year’s world championship team, competed in just three of the four events but posted big scores on each.

Peszek, McCordsville, stayed in fourth. After Thursday’s score of 60.75, she improved to 61.25 for a 122.00 total. Her 16.00 on balance beam — beginning with two backward flips landed on the 4-inch beam — equaled her best and was surpassed by only Johnson and Liukin.

Peszek nearly climbed to third but took a 0.80 deduction on floor exercise. She was short on her final tumbling pass and put her hand on the mat.

“I’m hoping for Olympic Trials. I can fix everything,” the Cathedral High School student said.

Sloan, Pittsboro, did only uneven bars and beam because USA Gymnastics leaders did not want her to re-injure her knee after recent meniscus surgery. The Tri-West High School student scored 15.95 on bars for a 31.70 total, placing third behind Liukin and Memmel.

The top 12 advance to the Olympic Trials later this month in Philadelphia, along with selected gymnasts such as Sloan.

Shayla Worley, another member of the 2007 world team, did not compete here because of a back injury.

The top two at trials earn spots on the Olympic team. Four more women will be chosen July 20 after a training camp.

On the final routine, floor exercise, Johnson’s music started too early.

“Anything can happen,” she said. “I cleared my mind and started over, and it was probably for the better.”

Her score of 16.20 put her too far ahead for Liukin to overtake her.

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