Between The Bars

July 20, 2004

BRUINS on the road to Athens

Congratulations to Kate Richardson and Mohini Bhardwaj for making their respective Olympic teams. To say we are all ecstatic and proud of them is a gross understatement.

It is our goal to help our student-athletes achieve ALL of their goals and dreams beyond UCLA gymnastics. However, they are the ones who have to stay the course and put in the hours and effort. It has been a tremendous honor for us coaches and athletes here at UCLA to work with Kate and Mohini during their Olympic journey.

I'll never forget one vault training session this past year where Kate was working on a Yurchenko double full. Along with our UCLA coaching staff, Mohini, Maloney, Antolin and Dantzscher were all brainstorming on how best to help her. I looked at the enthusiasm with which her teammates were helping her and thought, 'It doesn't get much better than this.'

This experience with Kate and Mo has been a true testament to the old adage, 'Great things can be accomplished when no one is concerned with who gets the credit.' David Kenwright, Kate's coach from Canada, was exceptionally open to working with us in discussing and formulating the game plan for Kate's training. All year long we had a constant dialogue with him regarding the skills she would need to implement and how to best keep her healthy.

On top of this, she worked diligently with our academic counselors to make sure she was up to speed come Fall 2004. In fact, in preparation for the time off she'd need for training this spring, Kate took extra class loads to keep her right on track come next season. And she earned Academic All-America honors to boot!

Mohini's experience has included a small army of support, all of whom deeply respect her commitment to following her dreams. Rita Brown, who has been one of Mo's biggest champions, has remained close to Mo throughout her collegiate and re-visited elite career. Our staff and student-athletes have supported and embraced Mo's and Kate's Olympic dreams as much as they had their own National Championship. Galina Marinova, the owner and head coach of All-Olympian Gymnastics Club, and her staff took Mohini in last year when our NCAA season prohibited us from giving Mohini all the attention she needed. Pamela Anderson afforded Mo the ability to concentrate on her training and thorough preparation for these Games and was Mo's most visible fan at the Olympic Trials, replete with her 'Go Mo' signs.

I am as equally excited for Chris Waller, who lived the Olympic dream as an athlete in Barcelona in 1992, and now as the coach of an Olympic athlete in Athens, 2004.