Mar Pulls Out of Gymnastic Trials, Retires

Times Staff Writer

Sabrina Mar, who should have been a lock for the Olympic gymnastics team, withdrew from competition Friday and announced her retirement from the sport. This was only a small surprise, in that Mar has long been suffering from a congenital back condition and has been unable to train effectively, especially recently.

Mar, a longtime member of the SCATS team in Huntington Beach, has always been dogged by spondylolisthesis, a slippage of disks that is somewhat like a curvature of the spine. The pain has at times hampered workouts and, in fact, prevented her from competing in the national championships last month. Scores from that meet were supposed to count for 40% of the team qualifying score, but Mar was allowed an exemption.

However, the downside of the exemption is that she would have to score in the top four in the Olympic trials to make the six-women team. Her compulsory score from Thursday night, a 45.511, did not encourage her. She said she doubted she would be able to crack the top four.

"These trials just came at a bad time," Mar said Friday night, before the men's finals. "I just needed a little more time to heal and more time to prepare. Basically, between my back and my ankles, my body is just not holding up."

Mar was this country's top all-around finisher in the summer dual meet with the Soviet Union and she had won the all-around title in the Pan American Games. She also took second on floor and uneven bars in that event.

Mar, 18, has no plans to continue the sport, healthy or not. "This is it," she said. She plans to attend UCLA in the fall.

Mar's withdrawl was somewhat reminiscent of the 1984 trials when Dianne Durham, along with Mary Lou Retton one of the top two ranked women, was injured and retired.

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