Bhardwaj Sixth After Day One Of U.S. Olympic Trials

June 25, 2004

Anaheim, CA - Former UCLA All-American and NCAA Champion Mohini Bhardwaj finished the first day of competition at the U.S. Olympic Trials at the Arrowhead Pond in sixth place with a score of 37.325. Bhardwaj had an outstanding meet, recording the top all-around mark after the first and second rotations before settling into sixth place.

Bhardwaj started the meet on vault, her best event, and stuck a Yurchenko double full for a 9.6. She was the only gymnast to stick her vault in the competition but had the second-highest score of the night, bested only by national vault champion Annia Hatch's 9.7. In rotation two, she performed a stellar uneven bars routine that received one of the loudest crowd reactions of the night and the fourth-highest score on that event, a 9.475. Highlighting her routine were a Pak full and a full-twisting double layout dismount.

Her stay at the top of the standings ended after a 9.025 on beam, but she finished strong with a 9.225 on floor that was aided with an efortless double layout-punch front.

Co-national all-around champion Courtney Kupets leads after day one with a score of 38.075, followed closely by Courtney McCool (37.775). Bhardwaj is well within striking distance of third-place Terin Humphrey (37.625), co-national champion Carly Patterson (37.575) and Tabitha Yim (37.525). Rounding out the Top 8 are Tasha Schwikert in seventh place (37.25) and Allyse Ishinio in eighth place (37.225).

'I had a great performance today,' said Bhardwaj. 'I had a few events that weren't so great, but I hope to improve on that on Sunday.'

At age 25, Bhardwaj is the second-oldest competitor at the Trials. She came out of retirement a year ago to pursue her Olympic dream.

'I live my life by the motto of having no regrets. I didn't want to look back and regret not trying to make this Olympic team,' she said. 'Regardless of what happens, I will be able to look back with a clear conscience. If anything, I think I showed USA Gymnastics that older women can train and compete with younger athletes. I definitely feel I have made an impact with the sport.'

The women's competition concludes Sunday afternoon at 3 pm PT. Friday's first day scores will combine with Sunday's scores towards the final total. Friday's competition will be broadcast on NBC on Saturday, June 26 at 8 pm ET/PT. Sunday's competition will air on Sunday, June 27 at 7 pm ET/PT.

On the men's side Thursday evening, Bruin alum Steve McCain (1993-94) recorded the fourth-highest score on Day One (56.55) and stands in sixth place in the combined all-around standings. The men's scores are tallied by combining 40% of the athletes' score from the USA Championships and 60% from the Olympic Trials. McCain's combined all-around total is 39.210, just .242 behind third-place Sean Townsend (39.452).

McCain, a 2000 Olympian and former two-time NCAA champion for the Bruins, posted high marks on pommel horse (9.7, second highest of the night), floor exercise (9.475, fourth highest) and high bars (9.5, tied for seventh-best).

'I feel really good,' McCain said after the competition. 'It's great to have it kick-started this way tonight. The Olympic Trials has turned out to be my favorite competition. In my opinion, it's one of the best gymnastics events in the world. It feels good to be doing well here.'

The men's competition concludes Saturday at 3 pm PT.

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