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Thursday, September 28
Vault mixup could have cost gymnast medal

SYDNEY, Australia -- Gymnastics' governing body has reprimanded officials who didn't notice the vault was almost two inches shorter than it should have been during the women's all-around.

The shortened vault could have cost favored Svetlana Khorkina the gold medal. Khorkina crashed on her first vault Thursday and then, thinking her chances at gold were gone, dropped off the uneven bars.

"It is very unfortunate that this situation occurred during the Olympic Games and FIG regrets the duress that the situation placed on some gymnasts," the International Gymnastics Federation said in a statement Sunday.

The federation didn't release details of the officials' punishment.

Workers adjusting the vault between the men's and women's all-around -- the men use a higher vault -- set it 1.97 inches shorter than regulation. Eighteen women vaulted before the error was fixed, and the shortened height led to several spectacular crashes.

The Women's Technical Committee and the Superior Jury were responsible for supervising the competition equipment and have been reprimanded for "lack of control," the federation said.

Steps also were taken to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"It was checked. Believe me, it was checked. I'm sure triple-checked," Slava Corn, president of the FIG's media commission, said after the women's vault final Sunday.

"And, quite frankly, I don't think we'll ever have an error like this again."

But that doesn't do Khorkina much good now.

The 5-foot-5 Russian didn't get enough height on her first vault and crashed to the mat on her knees. She landed her second vault perfectly, but her score of 9.343 wasn't enough to win gold.

Distraught and distracted -- gymnasts hadn't been told they could redo their vaults yet -- she fell off the uneven bars and dropped out of medal contention.

"It's very difficult and it hurts a lot," Khorkina said Sunday after winning gold in the uneven bars. "It's cruel to all of the participants which had the horse vault that was not of standard height."

It was also dangerous, she said.

"It's quite possible to get killed," she said. "If you're used to a vault of a certain height, all of the sudden, those two (inches) could decide the future of a sports person."


Russia's Khorkina withdraws from vault event

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