June 1, 2004
A pair of Bruin gymnasts will be competing this weekend at their respective countries' National Championships. Sophomore Kate Richardson will compete in her first Canadian National Championship since 2001, and former Bruin All-American Mohini Bhardwaj (1998-2001) will compete at the U.S. National Championships for the eighth time in her career and the third time since ending her eligibility at UCLA.
Richardson returns to the elite scene for the first time since capturing all-around and balance beam gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Prior to attending UCLA, she was a member of the 2000 Canadian Olympic team and two World Championship teams. At her last National Championships in 2001, she dominated, winning the all-around, vault, bars and beam and placing second on floor. She was also the 2000 national champion on vault. In two years at UCLA, Richardson has won two NCAA team and individual titles, three Pac-10 individual titles and eight All-America honors.
The Canadian Championships are being held at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. The senior women's all-around competition is scheduled for Friday, June 4 at 6 pm. Event finals will take place on Saturday, June 5 at 4 pm. Ten gymnasts will be selected for the Olympic Trials July 10-11. The 10 selections will be based on 25 percent from international results and 75 percent from the Canadian Championships. Then at trials, the nationals will count for 35 percent towards the final six selections for the Olympic team. Results and updates can be found at Gymn.ca.
Bhardwaj made her return to elite gymnastics in 2001 after her successful collegiate career during which she captured back-to-back NCAA team titles in 2000 and 2001 and two NCAA individual titles. She set a school record by recording a 39.975 out of 40 in the all-around in a dual meet in 2001 and won the Honda Award as the nation's best collegiate gymnast. Bhardwaj placed third in the all-around and won the vault title at the 2001 U.S. Championships and went on to lead the U.S. to a bronze medal at the World Championships, where she also placed seventh on vault. Bhardwaj, who, at 25, is one of the oldest competitors at the Championships, was a member of the 1997 World Championships squad and placed fifth on vault. Also competing at the Championships is former Bruin Steve McCain.
The U.S. Championships are being held in Nashville, TN. The two-day senior women's competition kicks off Thursday, June 3 at 7 pm with the all-around prelims and event finals competition. The all-around finals will take place on Saturday, June 5 at 6 pm. The Top 12 all-around competitors at the U.S. Championships will advance to the U.S. Olympic Trials, being held June 24-27 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim. Fans can follow the action at the USA Gymnastics website.
UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field is coaching Richardson at the Canadian Championships, along with Richardson's club coach David Kenwright. Bruin assistant coach Chris Waller is coaching Bhardwaj at the USA Championships.
In other UCLA Gymnastics happenings, Kondos Field has once again choreographed the Sea World Summer Nights shows in San Diego. The shows feature former UCLA gymnasts Yvonne Tousek and Malia Jones, as well as former NCAA gymnasts Calli Ryals (Michigan), Kelly Mathiasen (Cal State Fullerton) and Julie Houk (Nebraska).