Weatherford Democrat

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August 9, 2012

COLUMN: 2012 team gels better than 1992

— The big topic of discussion these past few days has been the sports competition at the London Olympics.

One never knows what it going to happen; sometimes the heavy favorites fall apart and suddenly a dark horse competitor comes up with the gold. That same thing happens in most all sports. The reason college football is exciting to me is the fact that on any given Saturday, the heavy favorite to win can be upset. That is also a good reason not to gamble on sporting events or horse races.

I like the women’s gymnastics. I first became involved in gymnastics when my son Larry’s daughter, Kim Kelly, became a worldwide competitor in gymnastics. She has a room full of trophies at home for her many winnings.

In 1992, the Olympic trials were held in Baltimore, Md. All the girls on the United States gymnastic team would compete for a place on the U.S. Olympic team. The team consists of six players who score the highest in the trial competition. There were many good gymnasts that year so the competition was very tough. A big part of our family went to Baltimore to see the trials and to root for Kim. As I said, the competition was tough, but our Kim made the team. We had a big celebration that night — and the next day, we all went to the casino in Atlantic City for some fun.

The coach of the team was the famous Bela Karolyi from Romania. Then, the great one decided that he did not have the best team possible. Secret trials were held and the girls all had to compete again. Unbeknownst to Bela, secret movies were made of these second trials. These movies showed that Kim was even better than in the public trials. However, Bela at an all-night session with all the girls’ different coaches convinced enough coaches to remove two of the team’s gymnasts and Kim Kelly was one of them. This caused a big public uproar and Kim was interviewed on national TV and even Bob Costas did a piece on this event.

The result of all this was a team with no unity or team spirit because no one knew what might happen next. Our world champion, Kim Zmeskal, unfortunately had an injury and was not able to show her best work and did not medal. Shannon Miller was the only girl who really had great performances and she won two golds and a bronze medal. This record held until it was tied this year by Aly Raisman in London. Kim and her mother went to Barcelona as spectators.

It is possible to see Kim’s winning performances on the Internet. Just search for 1992 girls gymnastics.

Kim said on a TV interview that she had just wasted a year of her life which she had dedicated to making the U.S. Olympic team.

This year’s girls gymnastics team is one of the happiest and friendliest groups of girls I have ever seen in the Olympics. They root for each other, hug each other and are really happy when a teammate has a very good performance. As a result, the medals have been many. This is as it should be.

The making of an Olympic contender is a very expensive thing for a family. I saw in the paper that two families of team members have filed for bankruptcy. It’s not something a family should get into unless they have a large income to cover all the expenses involved. Education is also involved and many of these girls end their career without a high school diploma. A parent should really investigate what is really involved before going for the gold.

Kim attended school while training and as a result she was given an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Alabama and become a collegiate All-American gymnast. She became a teacher and is married now with two children.

I hope you all have enjoyed watching the 2012 Olympics as I have. Come on, Team America, bring home the most medals.

Guest columnist William J. Kelly is a Parker County resident and served as 2nd Lt. in World War II in the Eighth Air Force of the US Army/Air Corp.

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