Bhardwaj Competing In All-Around

Aug. 13, 2004

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Pamela Anderson's investment in Mohini Bhardwaj keepspaying off.

Bhardwaj, whose quest to make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team wasbankrolled by the former 'Baywatch' actress, was chosen as a surpriseall-around candidate Friday when the Americans released their lineup.

Bhardwaj joins Courtney McCool and co-national champions Courtney Kupets andCarly Patterson in doing all four events during Sunday's team qualifications.

Bhardwaj would be eligible to compete for the all-around title if shefinishes high enough. The top 24 individual gymnasts advance to the all-around,though each country is limited to two qualifiers.

Bhardwaj was once one of the most promising young gymnasts in the UnitedStates. She burned out on the long hours of training, and went through arebellious stage that hurt her career. She regained her love of the sport atUCLA, where she was an 11-time All-American and helped the Bruins win twonational championships.

Though the 25-year-old is at an age where gymnasts trade their leotards fora coach's warm-up jacket, she decided she had to try one more time to make theOlympic team. Anderson stepped in, giving Bhardwaj $20,000 after she heard thegymnast was selling raffle tickets to help fund her training.

She was chosen unanimously by her teammates as the U.S. captain.

'It's definitely been a long road,' Bhardwaj said earlier this week. 'I'dsay very life-fulfilling for me. That's the best way I can put it.'

Bhardwaj will go first on three of the four events, responsible for gettinga solid score to set the tone for the rest of the team. She'll go second-laston vault, her strongest event. In preliminaries, five gymnasts compete on eachevent and four scores count.

The lineup is:

- Uneven bars: Bhardwaj, Terin Humphrey, McCool, Patterson, Kupets

- Balance beam: Bhardwaj, Kupets, Humphrey, McCool, Patterson

- Floor exercise: Bhardwaj, Kupets, Humphrey, McCool, Patterson

- Vault: McCool, Kupets, Patterson, Bhardwaj, Annia Hatch

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