There will be little time for relaxation or self satisfaction for the gymnasts who made Salt Lake City their home for the past week during the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials.
"I still have the biggest one left," said women's champion Phoebe Mills, explaining why she won't take a break.In fact, a week from now, the U.S. women's team, including Salt Lake City's Melissa Marlowe, will be harder at work than ever, all training together at the SCATS (Southern California Acro Team) club in Huntington Beach, Calif. That's the club coached by Don Peters, who is Olympic coach for the second straight time.
"Workouts will be a little competitive and keep each one of us on our toes," says Marlowe, who has never really been able to train for long periods with gymnasts of her own ability because she's the best Utah's ever produced.
"It will be different because it will be as a team; I'm sure it will bring out the best in everyone," she says.
Peters, who coached the silver-medal team in 1984 in Los Angeles, is pleased with the team he's been handed, even if none of his three SCATS made the club.
"We have a great team. We're going to be strong. It's on a par with the 1984 team - a little more balanced," Peters says. "I don't see any weaknesses."
That's not to say the women will win another silver team medal.
Peters, Mills, Marlowe and just about everybody else concede the first two team places to the Soviets and Romanians.
"Yes," said Marlowe about the concession to the Soviets and Romanians, "but not with a defeatist attitude."
"The Russians and Romanians are ahead of everyone else," says Peters, "but I don't think anybody else is better than we are."
Peters says individual medals will depend upon how well the team does, partly because those team-competition scores count toward indvidual titles and partly because the scores leading up to the people who are the best often determine where the top people finish. If the first two or three peoples' scores aren't high, the ones that follow won't be, either.
"Probably around third," is where Mills places the American women's chances.
The men's team, defending Olympic champion, has similar hopes, although it is young and inexperienced and the individuals made far too many mistakes during the trials in the Salt Palace last week.
"After 1984," said Olympic trials men's champion Charles Lakes, "we lost our big guns (Peter Vidmar, Bart Conner, Mitch Gaylord, Jim Hartung). I think the Chinese and Russians are too strong. It will be third we're shooting for."
The Olympians will come together again Friday in Charlotte, N.C., for an exhibition, then go into serious Olympic training.
Men's Olympic Coach Abie Grossfeld says he has a month to work out the mistakes that plagued the men in the trials. He will be especially critical of Lakes, whose reputation is that of a man who does not work hard in practice and sometimes misses in meets, though he was one of the few without a slip last week. Lakes says he's worked hard lately and that his formerly light workouts made it possible for his body to last this long.
Mills is the example of one who's always worked hard. She says she can't rely on natural talent. "Some people can. I can't. I've put in a lot of hard work, and it's paying off," she says.
She's the one who won't make mistakes in preparation, says her personal coach, Bela Karolyi. "I would put my hand in the fire that she would not do anything to hurt the team," he said. "That kid can torture herself and discipline herself just like Nadia (Comaneci, 1976 Olympic all-around champion, coached by Karolyi) in the old days."
Karolyi says he will not attend the training camp or go to Seoul because he's "not wanted" despite the fact he's coach of four of the eight-woman contingent. He warns the official staff to watch the youngsters closely. "It's hard. Everybody's going to go out and celebrate now and enjoy what they've been doing. You can't blame them. But I know it's going to happen.
"For the others, I would not put my hand in the fire," he says.
Mills stands by her coach's decision to stay away from training camp - unless one of his charges calls and asks for his specific help - and away from Seoul. "I'd feel better if he were there, but I'm sure whatever he's doing is for the best. He wants the best for us. I trust what he's doing," Mills said.
Karolyi, paid by his young charges to coach them, says he turned them over to the Olympic training staff following Saturday's competition. "At this moment, I shook their hands, and I said, `Guys, I'm proud of you. You done it. Follow it. Good luck. I hope you're going to keep up just as hard."'
And then his obligation ended because he has no credentials to be on the floor or athletes' village at the Olympics and because Peters and staff need to be able to work without interference in camp. "I would kick them out if I were in charge," he said of training camp, if roles were reversed.
"It's a sorrow. I'm not from wood, and I'm not from rock. I'm sometimes too emotional. Sure I'd like to follow the kids," Karolyi said.