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U.S. Women See Golden Potential At Worlds
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Newly crowned U.S. champion Shawn Johnson and teammate Shayla Worley told IG the American women have the potential to win the team title at the World Championships, Sept. 1-9 in Stuttgart.
Shayla Worley

"We'll be one of the strongest teams there," said Johnson, just after winning the all-around title at the U.S. Championships that took place August 15-18 in San Jose. "I want to go in as a team and definitely come out with a gold. But individually, I want to do my best and have fun."

Immediately following the U.S. Championships, Johnson and six other women were named to the U.S. team for Stuttgart. Six of the gymnasts will compete, and the alternate will be determined prior to competition.

In addition to Johnson and Worley, the team includes Nastia Liukin, Ivana Hong, Bridget Sloan, Alicia Sacramone and Samantha Peszek.

The U.S. women won their first and only world championships team title in Anaheim in 2003. The team finished second in 1991, 1994 and 2006 and third in 1995 and 2001.

Liukin and Sacramone are the only members of the U.S. team for Stuttgart who have prior World Championships experience. At the 2005 Worlds, held in Melbourne, Liukin finished second all-around, first on uneven bars and first on balance beam; and Sacramone finished first on floor exercise and third on vault. At the 2006 Worlds, held in Aarhus, Denmark, Liukin finished second on uneven bars, and Sacramone finished second on vault.

2005 world all-around champion Chellsie Memmel, the sole member of the 2003 gold-medal winning team still competing internationally, competed on only floor exercise on the first day of the competition. She was not named to the U.S. team for Stuttgart, but was named to the U.S. national team for 2007-2008.

Johnson said the team for Stuttgart is an ideal combination of veterans and newcomers.

"As a group, I think we're the strongest team ever," she said. "We have Nastia and Alicia who bring the experience. And then the younger ones like Shayla, Bridget, Ivana, Sam and I bring energy and spirit. I think that, when mixed together, we will make a perfect team."

Like Johnson, Worley said she is optimistic about her prospects, as well as the team's chances, in Stuttgart.

"I'm super excited that hopefully I will compete my skill on beam (Onodi to two feet), and it will be named after me," Worley said. "The biggest goal is to help our team win the World Championships - to win that gold! All we need to do is hit. We are, in my opinion, by far the best team out there. All we have to do is get together that day and go out there and do our stuff, and I don't think anybody can beat us!"

Worley said she was pleased with her second-place performance in San Jose, where she competed in her first U.S. Senior Championships.

"Of course, my ultimate goal is always winning, but I try not to think of the outcome," said Worley, who placed third at the 2005 U.S. Junior Championships but did not compete in 2006 because of injury. "I focus on one skill at a time and not get ahead of myself. My goal are winning and making the team and all that great stuff, but you just have to take it slowly."

Worley said she was especially confident on the second day of competition in San Jose.

"The first day, I was a little more nervous than usual, but (on the second day) I walked in there and knew it was going to be a great day," said Worley, who trains at Orlando Metro in Florida. "I could just feel it. I felt confident, and I went out there and did my stuff."

To read IG Online's live coverage of the 2007 U.S. Championships, click here.

IG Magazine Related Features
"Back in Focus" Worley cover story (July/August 2007)
Peszek center poster (July/August 2007)
Johnson on cover (April 2007)
"A Taste of China" - Johnson feature (November 2006)
Johnson on cover, Johnson center poster (October 2006)
Peszek profile (November 2006)
Liukin and Sacramone on cover, 2005 Worlds special issue (January/February 2006)
Sacramone interview (April 2006)
"Shooting Star" - Johnson profile (January 2006)
Liukin on cover, Liukin center poster (October 2005)
Liukin on cover (April 2005)
Sacramone on cover (March 2005)
"A Model Gymnast" - Worley profile (November 2004)
"Coming On Strong" - Sacramone profile (June/July 2004)
Liukin on cover (June/July 2003)
"An Unstoppable Force" - Liukin profile (November 2002)

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