GYMNASTICS : Miller Leads U.S. Women to Victory


Shannon Miller put on her usual sensational performance Wednesday night at the Sports Arena.

To the delight of 5,294 fans, the diminutive 16-year-old gymnastics world champion led the United States women to victory in the Hilton Challenge.

The United States easily beat teams from Ukraine and Belarus in a triangular meet.

The U.S. men team didn't fare nearly as well. They were no match for Vitaly Scherbo and his Belarus team. Scherbo easily won the all-around.

With a 9.55 on the final event, the horizontal bar, Scherbo, winner of six gold medals in the Olympics at Barcelona last year, had 56.350 points out of a possible 60 in the six men's events. Belarus had 167.90 points, Ukraine 166.95 and the United States 164.80.

Igor Korobchinski of Ukraine (55.700) was second. Chainey Umphrey of UCLA, the top American, was fifth with 55.150 points.

Miller rallied after a slow start to easily win all-around honors. She finished strongly, taking the lead after the second of four events.

One of the surprise performances was by Amanda Borden of Cincinnati. The 16-year-old was only seventh in the Olympic trials last year, but on Wednesday night performed well in all events.

A performance that drew continuous applause from the fans was that of 14-year-old Lilia Podkopayeva of Ukraine. She earned a score of 9.85 in floor exercise with some outstanding maneuvers.

Miller led the United States to a one-two-four finish in the women's competition. Dominique Dawes, the leader after the first event, the vault, was second and Borden fourth. Tatiana Lisenko, 18, of Ukraine, was third.

Miller, 4-feet-10 and 79 pounds, finished with a flourish in the floor exercise, an event she almost didn't enter. Her 9.827 brought a standing ovation and a grand total of 39.287 points out of a possible 40.

"My back has been bothering me," Miller said. "But I felt pretty good and wanted to go on and finish. It was a very important win for us. We continued our domination of the best in the world."

Dawes had 38.90 points, Lisenko 38.537 and Borden 38.362. Kerri Strug, a teammate of Miller's, was seventh after a surprisingly weak performance in the vault.

The U.S. women had 116.974 points to 114.236 for Ukraine.

The injury to Miller is not considered serious. She first noticed it in January, but she went on to win the world championships in England in April.

"I don't think there will be a problem," Miller said. "As long as I'm careful it isn't really a problem.

"I want to be certain that I'm ready in late August for our national championships. I've won Olympic medals and a world championship, so now I have to win our championship."

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