Aug. 9, 2000
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Three Ohio State men's gymnasts, including current Buckeyes Jamie Natalie (Sr., Hockessin, Del.) and Raj Bhavsar (So., Houston, Texas) and former OSU gymnast Blaine Wilson, will compete in the Olympic Trials Aug. 17-19 at the FleetCenter in Boston. Six athletes from the trials will earn the opportunity to represent the United States in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. The opening round of the trials will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, with the final session at 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19.
The first four members of the U.S. Olympic Team will be determined based on combined scores from the John Hancock U.S. Gymnastics Championships (40 percent), which was held July 26-28 in St. Louis, and the Olympic Trials (60 percent). The remaining two members of the team will be determined based on their scores on certain events that a committee deems would compensate for the first four team members' weaknesses. Two alternates also will be chosen.
The men's U.S. Senior National Team also will be determined following the trials. The six Olympians will make the squad along with the next three all-arounders. Three additional national team members will be named to the squad by committee, with two being selected for one year and one through the 2001 Winter Cup in February.
Natalie is in sixth place heading into the trials after posting a combined total of 111.025 at the national championships. At that meet, he tied for the high bar title in the event finals and posted a score of 9.850 in the all-around finals, the highest high bar score of the championship.
"It's very exciting to get the chance to compete at trials," Natalie said. "It's a feat in itself just making it there. Hopefully I can put together two great performances and fulfill my life-long dream of making the Olympics."
Bhavsar claimed the last qualifying spot for the Olympic Trials by placing 14th at the championships with a score of 108.325.
"The first thing that comes to mind about trials is - I'm ready," Bhavsar said. "No matter what happens I'm going to use this as a great learning experience. I have nothing to lose - I'm just going to give it my all."
Miles Avery, OSU's head coach, serves as the coach for Natalie and Bhavsar.
"Obviously the Olympic Trials is one of the most exciting competitions for a young man," Avery said. "A lot of dreams are being realized. It's also tough, because if you don't make the squad you have to wait four long years for another chance.
The Olympic Trials will have 17 gymnasts competing for the six spots on the U.S. Olympic Team. The other gymnasts in the competition include 14 who qualified by finishing in the Top 14 at the national championships (Sean Townsend, Paul Hamm, Steve McCain, John Roethlisberger, Brett McClure, Morgan Hamm, Guard Young, Trent Wells, Jay Thornton, Justin Toman and Jim Foody), one who qualified based on his five event score (Mike Dutka) and two gymnasts who could not compete at the national championships because of injuries but petitioned directly into the trials (Chris Young and Yewki Tomita).
Wilson, who won his fifth-consecutive national title at the championships, is in first place going into the trials after scoring a 115.675, over a full point ahead of Townsend, who placed second.
Highlights from the U.S. Olympic Trials will be broadcast at noon Aug. 20 on NBC.