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Khorkina says "judges robbed me"

Gennady Fyodorov in Moscow | August 22, 2004 20:41 IST

Russia's Svetlana Khorkina, who was second to American Carly Patterson in the women's all-round gymnastics competition, has accused the judges of robbing her of the gold medal and said "everything was decided in advance".

"I'm just furious," Khorkina, who had been favourite for the coveted title, was quoted as saying in the daily Izvestia. "I knew well in advance, even before I stepped on the stage for my first event, that I was going to lose."

"Everything was decided in advance. I had no illusions about this when the judges gave me 9.462 for the vault after conferring with one another at length.

"I practically did everything right, still they just set me up and fleeced me," she said in the interview published on Saturday.

Asked why she felt she was marked down by the judges, Khorkina said: "You better ask them. I think it's because I'm from Russia, not from America!"

When Khorkina won her silver medal on Thursday, she showed no outward signs of disappointment and said: "I think it's the best day of my life."

The Russian was also favourite for the all-round title four years ago in Sydney, where her hopes were dashed after she crashed to her knees from the vault. It was later discovered the horse had been set five centimetres too short.

She said she was hoping Sydney's experience would cause the judges to be more sympathetic to her plight in Athens -- her third and last Olympics.

Khorkina did not think Patterson was a deserving winner.

Asked if the American was a worthy opponent, she said: "I've seen a much tougher opposition than her. Let's see how long she can remain on top. Can she keep going and compete in two more Olympics like myself."

"No, well, you better write that Patterson is a great champion and she has a great future," she added sarcastically.

Khorkina confirmed that Athens were her last Olympics but she wants to remain in the sport.

"I'd like to work for the International Gymnastics Federation. These competitions have shown the sport needs a lot of changes," she said. "It should be judged primarily on grace, elegance and beauty rather than simply on mechanic tumbling."

On Sunday the Russian will compete in her last event -- the uneven bars, where she is hoping to become the first gymnast in history to win three consecutive Olympic titles on the same apparatus.

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