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World gymnastics championships

US women on top

Sloan takes gold, Bross earns silver

By Nancy Armour
Associated Press / October 17, 2009

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LONDON - Bridget Sloan wore gold, Rebecca Bross wore silver.

The big winner? The United States.

In shades of the Beijing Olympics, Sloan edged her younger teammate for the world gymnastics championships last night. And it couldn’t have been closer, coming down to the very last skill of the night, with Bross falling on her final tumbling pass to drop to second place and give Sloan the title.

Sloan, the lone holdover from the US team that won the silver medal in Beijing, finished with 57.825 points. Bross, competing at her first world championships after turning 16 in July, scored 57.775 points. Koko Tsurumi gave Japan a rare medal in the women’s all-around, winning the bronze.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,’’ said Sloan, fingering her oversized gold medal. “I imagine as time goes by, I think I’ll be like, ’Yeah, this is pretty cool.’ ’’

Sloan is the US champion, making the transition from supporting player to star with ease and confidence. Bross is the phenom, so talented she finished second at the Pan American Games two years ago - just days after her 14th birthday.

Bross, a dynamo whose every routine is packed with tough tricks, had built up a sizable lead after the first three rotations. Sloan was up first on floor, and she was gorgeous. She had great height on her tumbling passes and landed all of them as if she were coming down in a vat of superglue.

Bross needed only a 12.925 to win. Considering her lowest score to that point was the 13.95 she’d scored on floor in qualifying, the gold medal seemed like a gimme.

But on her very last trick, trying to punch forward from the landing of one flip into another one, her legs gave out. She barely got off the ground, not getting the height she needed and nearly came down on her head.