Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Olympic champ Phelps will make comeback

Enquirer news services

        Saying she wants to help provide leadership to the struggling U.S. women's gymnastics team, Cincinnati's Jaycie Phelps is making a comeback.

        Phelps, 20, was a member of the 1996 Olympic team, which won its first team gold medal.

        “I feel like we have a lot of talent,” Phelps said, “(but) there's really no one who has the experience we had in '96.”

        This year the United States team was sixth at the World Championships, its worst finish since 1987.

        “If the girls have questions or need help, just the experience I've had hopefully can help out,” said Phelps, a member of three Worlds teams.

        Phelps thought her career was over after she had a third surgery to her left knee in December, 1997. But recently, her doctor gave her medical clearance to return.

        Phelps, a product of Northwest High School and native of Greenfield, Ind., resumed training 11/2 months ago in Mesa, Ariz.

        “We're starting real slow,” said her coach, Geoff Eaton. “The bones in the body get a little sore after a three-year vacation.”


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