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De Simone, Campos Frontrunners for Beijing
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Lenika de Simone

Spain, which failed to qualify a full women's Olympic team for the first time since 1980, should determine the two gymnasts who will go to Beijing after the Spanish Women's Championships this weekend in Tafalla, Navarra.

Five gymnasts are fighting in Tafalla for these two spots: frontrunners Lenika de Simone and Laura Campos, Mercedes Alcaide, Naomi Ruiz, and Melodie Pulgarín.

2004 Olympian floor bronze medallist Patricia Moreno retired earlier this month after multiple injuries, while 2007 Worlds alternate, Jennifer López, retired short after Stuttgart.

There are nine gymnasts in contention for the men's team to Beijing: Rafael Martínez, Manuel Carballo, Javier Gómez, Gervasio Deferr, Iván San Miguel, Isaac Botella, Sergio Muñoz, Christian Bazán and Arkaitz García. Martínez scored a 91.140 to win the Spanish Men's Championships, held June 27-29 in Salamanca.

De Simone and Campos made a big step toward being selected for Beijing after finishing first and second at the Spanish Cup held June 13-15 in Merida.

De Simone, who couldn't compete in Athens because of an unfortunate leg injury prior to the Games, scored a season high 59.300 for the gold medal in Merida. She has her flight booked for the Olympics after her Europeans' performance and consistency throughout the season. She finished first on bars (15.150) and floor (14,950), but had some problems on her speciality, beam (15,.000). Known for her gorgeous lines, style and form, De Simone will head to Stanford University this fall and will try to combine NCAA gymnastics with representing Spain internationally.

Laura Campos

The second spot is more open with veteran Campos taking the lead ahead of youngsters Alcaide and Ruiz. Pulgarín, who is the only one not training in Madrid with the national coaching staff, is trying to sneak into the Olympics but her chances seem to narrow after only competing on bars in Merida.

Campos posted the highest score of the meet in Merida with a 15.400 on beam and consistent scores on the other events. A powerful gymnast, Campos surprised the world in 2003 with a difficult whip, whip through double layout on floor, but injuries and a lack of stamina have plagued her. Beijing could be the last chance for Campos to compete at a high level. Stylish, younger Alcaide finished third with a poor routine on bars (13.600) while Naomi Ruiz vaulted a double-twisting Yurchenko for the fourth position. Pulgarín only did bars and got a 13.550, probably not enough to be in the mix.

Spain will send two gymnasts to a tri-meet among Germany, France and Romania later this month, which could be used as the final test to determine the Olympic pair.

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