Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Local gymnast passed over for Olympic team


Beckerman, as alternate, might have replaced White

By Scott MacGregor
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Alyssa Beckerman competes in the Olympic Trials.
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        Cincinnati once had a shot at having three gymnasts on the Olympic team. Now there is none.

        Olympic alternate Alyssa Beckerman, a 19-year-old Wyoming resident who trains at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy, was not chosen to replace injured Cincinnati teammate Morgan White on the U.S. squad, USA Gymnastics said Monday. Tasha Schwikert, chosen as an alternate after Beckerman, was named instead.

        White made the team after last month's Olympic trials, but pulled out Sunday when a stress fracture in her left foot became too painful. Beckerman was named first alternate after the trials last month and Schwikert, 15, was added a week later.

        The decision to name Schwikert as White's replacement was made by national team coordinator Bela Karolyi, head coach Kelli Hill and assistant coach Mary Lee Tracy, USA Gymnastics said.

        Beckerman is the national balance beam champion and finished higher than Schwikert in the Olympic trials (eighth vs. ninth), but her reputation for lapses in concentration may have hurt her.

        “We have great confidence in Tasha's ability to step forward and meet the challenge of helping this team compete for a medal in Sydney,” USA Gymnastics president Bob Colarossi said. “Tasha has proven herself throughout this entire year by always being ready for significant competitions.”

        Beckerman remains an alternate for the six-member squad.

        White sustained the stress fracture before last month's trials, but made the team anyway. It became too painful once she got to Sydney for Olympic training last week.

        “Morgan has withdrawn, but not without a courageous effort,” Colarossi said. “She is a great athlete and a young woman with tremendous spirit and drive.”



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