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HOW PERFECT CAN YOU BE?
E.M. Swift
October 03, 1988
Despite some soaring performances by the Soviets, poor judging stole the show
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October 03, 1988

How Perfect Can You Be?

Despite some soaring performances by the Soviets, poor judging stole the show

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Karolyi was at his metaphorical best after the results were in. "I feel like I was stopped on the highway, robbed, kicked in the mouth, and you go home naked," he said. "That wild woman [Berger] came down like a wounded animal. No warning. Even your own child, stealing money from your pocket, you warn first: 'Don't do that again.' No, a person in charge cannot act like that."

"Someone should tell Ellen! Tell her!" Marta Karolyi, Bela's wife and an assistant coach, said of Berger. Tell her what? "That she was cheating!"

Abusing the spirit of competition is more accurate. In a classic case of closing the barn door after the horse has escaped, the FIG two days later changed the maximum deduction that a judge can take if a coach remains on the platform to .3. And, Titov predicts, the FIG will soon pass a rule that a warning be issued before a deduction is taken.

About the only Americans not foaming at the mouth were the gymnasts themselves. "You just have to learn how to deal with this kind of thing," said Phoebe Mills, 15, who on Sunday became the only U.S. gymnast to get a medal when she took a bronze on the beam during the individual apparatus finals. "I think all of us feel, know, we should have won the bronze medal."

"The only difference is we don't have the medal in our hands to show people," said Salt Lake City's Missy Marlowe. Then she shrugged and said, "Look, if I only did gymnastics for results, I wouldn't put up with all this."

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