Liukin approves of gymnastics' new tie-break rules

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 28, 2012
Another Olympic gold medal would have been nice. Family bragging rights would have been even better. International gymnastics officials released new, simplified tiebreak rules that, had they been in place four years ago, would have given Olympic champion Nastia Liukin a gold medal on uneven bars. Liukin and China's He Kexin tied in the bars final at the Beijing Games, finishing with identical start values (7.7) and execution marks (9.025). But Liukin wound up with silver because of a convoluted formula based on deductions from the execution mark. ''I told my dad, `I would have tied you with the medal count!'' Liukin said. Liukin won five medals in Beijing, giving her one more than her father, Valeri. But as Valeri likes to remind his daughter, two of his were gold. In addition to her all-around gold, Nastia Liukin won silvers in the team competition, uneven bars and balance beam, and a bronze on floor exercise. ''That's the one thing that came to mind, I would have tied him,'' the younger Liukin said. While it's too late to do her any good, Liukin said she is glad the rules have been changed. If there's a tie in event finals in London, the execution mark will serve as the first tie-break, followed by the difficulty score. If the gymnasts are still tied, that result will stand - even if it means shared medals. ''It's fair,'' Liukin said. ''If you both tie, I think you definitely both deserve gold medals. It's so hard to break a gold medal.'' --- BIG BROTHER WINS: Steve Gluckstein fell to earth and shot his hands toward the sky. Making the U.S. Olympic team tends to have that effect on people. The 22-year-old from Atlantic Highlands, N.J., secured the lone spot in men's trampoline during the Olympic trials Wednesday night, avenging a near miss four years ago. ''This was my time,'' Gluckstein said Thursday. It wasn't, however, his little brother's time. Gluckstein's victory came at the expense of Jeffrey Gluckstein, who finished third at trials and was passed over in favor of Logan Dooley as the team's alternate. The look of disappointment was visible on the younger Gluckstein's face at the end of Wednesday's competition, and Jeffrey actually spent the evening in a friend's hotel room rather than bunk with his big brother. ''I think he wanted to stay away from me for a little bit,'' Steven Gluckstein said. ''It's understandable. Every time he sees me, it's going to be hard to remind him of what he could have had.'' Besides, if Jeffrey had stuck around, he wouldn't have gotten much sleep. Steven Gluckstein said he napped for about two hours overnight but was simply too wired to settle down after completing an eventful four years that saw him win three national titles while trying to contend with his brother's ascension up the ranks. Steven Gluckstein believes there's plenty of time for Jeffery, 19, to rebound in time for the 2016 Games. Jeffrey will likely join his parents in the stands in London, and Steven thinks his brother can use it as a springboard to better things. ''I hope this is a breakthrough and maybe over the next year he'll understand it,'' Steven Gluckstein said. ''Everybody matures at a different time and I hope that this is his year to take that step up into what I call trampoline adulthood.'' --- BOOMER SOONER: The Olympic trials are doubling as an Oklahoma reunion. One of the rotations in the men's competition is made up entirely of current or former Sooners: Jonathan Horton, who led Oklahoma to three NCAA titles; reigning NCAA all-around champion Jake Dalton; Chris Brooks and Steve Legendre, who were both on the 2008 national champion team; and Alex Naddour, who won NCAA titles on pommel horse in 2010 and 2011. ''It's Team Oklahoma vs. the world!'' Brooks said before the meet. ''We're our own rotation, that's pretty cool.'' Dalton and Legendre are the only ones left at Oklahoma. Horton and Brooks returned to their hometowns of Houston after finishing school, and Naddour left Oklahoma after the world championships last fall. But the Sooner contingent remains tight, and Brooks said they've often wondered what it would have been like to compete together. Now they get the chance. ''It should be good,'' Brooks said. ''It should be like a college meet again.'' --- OROZCO'S MOM: John Orozco's mother is feeling well enough to make the trip to the Olympic trials. ''She's doing OK,'' the U.S. champion said Wednesday. ''She's here. Got in yesterday with my dad.'' Damaris Orozco spent 10 days in the hospital before the U.S. championships with a uterine infection that had spread to her stomach. She left because her insurance ran out, and continued to recuperate at the family's home in the Bronx. Orozco said his family wouldn't tell him much about her illness, not wanting to distract him. But he was clearly relieved when his parents arrived in St. Louis for nationals, and he made a point of thanking his mother in a post-meet interview and saying how glad he was that she'd been able to see him win his first U.S. title. --- AP Sports Writer Will Graves contributed to this report.
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