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Khorkina's all-round dreams dented

Pritha Sarkar in Athens | August 15, 2004 15:36 IST

Russian pin-up Svetlana Khorkina's hopes of winning the Olympic gymnastics all-round crown suffered an early blow on Sunday when she fell flat on her face from the vault in the women's team qualification.

The double Olympic champion arrived in Athens as the favourite for the all-round title and looked in dazzling form during training.

But Khorkina's bid to become the first non-teenager to win the individual crown since the 1968 Games appeared to be in jeopardy midway through Russia's first sub-division.

Arguably the most elegant gymnast to have graced the world stage, the 25-year-old Khorkina landed her first vault to earn a respectable 9.512 from the judges.

Seconds later, however, Khorkina over-rotated on her double Tsukahara and fell head first into the mat before rolling sideways off the marked area.

A stunned Khorkina examined her grazed knee before looking up to the scoreboard for the judges' verdict. It flashed up with just 8.700, leaving the despondent Russian with an average of 9.106.

Following rule changes after the Sydney Olympics, just 24 gymnasts qualify for Thursday's all-round final, with only the top two from each country eligible to go through.

Khorkina now faces an anxious wait as she will have to rely on her team mates to slip up if she is to be one of the top two Russians.

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