After the compulsories on Thursday, Daggett, an '84 Olympic gold medalist who competed in all events but the vault in Houston, was last in the 44-man field. As he warmed up for the optionals on Saturday, he looked pained, tense. The fear he has to live with was evident in his face as he dismounted from the rings. Daggett again declined to vault, though he had been practicing a handspring lately. His coach, Yefim Furman, worked over his injured leg and ankle between rotations and tried to shout away his terror. "I'm scared, I'm scared," says Daggett, 26. "He really has to push me."
It came together, however, for Daggett on the parallel bars. Long one of the nation's strongest upper-body gymnasts, he seized the apparatus with ferocity—while somehow managing to look as serene as a child playing with his blocks. The control was there again. And when he stuck his tuck double-back dismount, he threw both fists out, twice, to a relieved, rejoicing crowd. One excited judge flashed a 10; Daggett earned a 9.85. He then scored a 9.45 in the high bar, aborted his floor exercise and looked at ease again on his favorite routine, the pommel horse (9.90). "I've done so much more than I thought even possible," said Daggett, who finished 43rd.
Since he, along with fellow '84 Olympian Scott Johnson (who has a broken bone in his hand), has been granted a medical waiver, the score he gets at the trials will be the only one that counts toward his qualifying for the Olympic team.
Meanwhile, Peters is having rosy Olympic visions. The women's team he will likely take to Seoul is solid. Along with Karolyi's kids will be Garrison-Steves, Spivey and Stacey Gunthorpe. (Karolyi, however, says he won't be going to Seoul. He had been given a post as Olympic delegation leader, but resigned it Sunday in a dispute over the coaching selection process and lack of access to his charges during competition. Olympic gymnastics officials say they hope to persuade Karolyi to change his mind.)
Peters was especially pleased with the improvement in the women's compulsory performances in Houston. "I think we'll contend for one of the team medals," he says. "We're going to be as strong as we were in '84." The U.S. women finished 2nd in L.A.
True, in Seoul they may have to face the Soviet and Romanian women without a new Mary Lou. But in Mills America will have a steadfast flag-bearer just hitting her stride.