Sunday, February 20, 2000

Tracy's Olympic hopefuls




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        ALYSSA BECKERMAN

        • Age: 19

        • Hometown: Long Branch, N.J.

        • Resides: Wyoming

        • Olympic outlook: Ms. Beckerman has one of the best shots of Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy's five elites at making the squad. She already had good technical skills when she arrived, but her mental approach has improved enough to make her a legitimate contender.

        • Personal: A senior at Wyoming, Ms. Beckerman has deferred a scholarship to UCLA until after the Olympics. She is the most outgoing of the five gymnasts, and the most typically teen-ager. She describes herself as “a little wacky” and has a good sense of humor. “What's life without a laugh?” she said.

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        DOMINIQUE MOCEANU

        • Age: 18

        • Hometown: Hollywood, Calif.

        • Resides: Springdale

        • Olympic outlook: The only gymnast with Olympic experience, Ms. Moceanu still has the technical skills that made her a national heroine in 1996. But the last four years have been tough — a knee injury, legal fights with her parents, the growth of her body into womanhood — and she fell out of shape. Experts believe if she gets in shape, she has a shot at the Olympics.

        • Personal: Has enjoyed meeting celebrities since she became famous before the '96 Games. Her favorites: Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Michael Douglas. Wants to meet Dennis Rodman and Madonna. Favorite moment from the Olympics was watching the American flag raised at the medal ceremony. She isn't in school.

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        SIERRA SAPUNAR

        • Age: 18

        • Hometown: Sebastopol, Calif.

        • Resides: Wyoming

        • Olympic outlook: When healthy and confident, Ms. Sapunar is probably the most physically gifted and graceful athlete. But injuries — foot and elbow — have set her back since mid-1998. If she stays healthy, she's a good bet for the Olympics.

        • Personal: Senior at Wyoming High School. Likes to cook. Collects nail polish. Is thinking about a career in sports psychology or child psychology.

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        JENNIE THOMPSON

        • Age: 18

        • Hometown: Wichita Falls, Texas

        • Resides: Colerain Township

        • Olympic outlook: The champion of the prestigious American Cup last year, Ms. Thompson is one of the odds-on favorites for the Olympic squad. She combines grace with a short, powerful body and is considered the coolest and most consistent of the five. Only a nagging Achilles injury that forced her out of the 1999 world championships can hold her back.

        • Personal: Senior at Colerain High School. Considers herself a “normal kid” and counts non-gymnasts as her best friends. Likes to hang out, shop, go to parties and listen to the Dave Matthews Band.

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        MORGAN WHITE

        • Age: 16

        • Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

        • Resides: Fairfield

        • Olympic outlook: Ms. White is not as experienced as other top Olympic hopefuls, but has all the skills to make a serious bid for the squad. Petite and lean, she's considered a “scrapper” by her coaches and may be the toughest mentally of the five. She qualified for the American Cup last month as the highest U.S. finisher at a pre-cup meet.

        • Personal: Runs her own Web site (www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Pressbox/4636). Listens to alternative music. Collects coins and coffee mugs. Enjoys going home and chilling with her family. She is home schooled.

       



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