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Letters to the Editors

Gymnasts shaming U.S.

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000


I am disgusted with the performance of the United States gymnastics teams in Sydney and embarrassed that these so-called athletes were chosen to represent a nation that stands for opportunity, excellence and commitment. The women's gymnastic team is the epitome of laziness, sloppiness and disrespect. The men's team certainly ranks a close second, with one or two exceptions.

Not only is the overall skill level of the women's team highly questionable, but more importantly, it certainly doesn't exhibit the focused energy, drive and consistency that one would expect in our Olympic athletes. From the preliminaries, the women have portrayed themselves as "abused prima donnas" who are not given the recognition they deserve when they do well, yet are harshly criticized when they do poorly. We expect them to do well. That is why they were chosen to represent our country.

The inconsistencies that team members have displayed throughout speak clearly to the fact that there may be some talent lurking within one or two of the athletes. However, they require discipline, structure and, most of all, the consistent focus on task and the inner drive to excel. Compared to the Romanian, Russian and Chinese, our women act as if they are at a high school prom rather than a focused competition.

The article that appeared in the Times (Time to bid Bela goodbye, Sept. 20) that criticized Bela Karolyi's actions was unfortunate. What our teams need is the strength, discipline, drive and work ethic of Bela Karolyi, now more than ever.

Perhaps if Bela could, once again, train the members of the women's gymnastics team (he wouldn't hurt the men's team, either), Olympic judges and the press would be less impressed by cutesy "flirting" and more impressed with skill.
-- Bonnie-Lou Binnig, via e-mail

Goolagong an oversight

Evonne Goolagong (an Aborigine) was a world-class tennis player, well respected and very popular with fans and peers.

She should have rated a mention in Gary Shelton's article on aboriginal athletes and personalities of the past, don't you think?
-- Tom Sturr, Homosassa

Cards' clinching win underplayed

The St. Petersburg Times has always had a top-notch sports department. However, to ignore the St. Louis Cardinals clinching the National League Central championship on the front page teases of both Section A and Section C is unforgivable.

St. Petersburg was long the spring training home for the Cardinals, the reason many people settled in the Tampa Bay area.

Sure, the Cards clinching was the featured story for the National League baseball page. But other teases could have been replaced with "Cards win Central."

Even a mention under "baseball races" would at least have not ignored this important sports item.
-- Dick McDaniel, Bradenton

Kudos to upgraded autos coverage

I have been a race fan for many years, and have wanted to thank you for the past two or so years of increased coverage, especially the work of Kevin Kelly. The folks prior have done a good job, but Kevin has educated more than others.

His article (Wednesday) on Formula One was very good for the novice. His stuff each day has been very well rounded.

Keep up the good work, Kevin, and please keep it coming.
-- Tom Johnson, St. Petersburg

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