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Veteran Lozhechko Loses Spot on Russian Olympic Team
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Yulia Lozhechko at the 2007 Worlds

While the Russian women's Olympic team has yet to be officially announced, veteran Yulia Lozhechko won't be going to Beijing, head coach Andrei Rodionenko said Monday.

Lozhechko, the 2007 European Champion on balance beam, has lost all chances for the 2008 Olympics. Ksenia Afanasyeva, Yekaterina Kramarenko, Anna Pavlova and Ksenia Semyonova already have secured berths, and Svetlana Klyukina, Daria Yelizarova and Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova are vying for the remaining two spots, Rodionenko said.

The official team will be decided after a final mock meet Wednesday in the Siberian city of Leninsk-Kuznetsky, where the Olympic training squad has been training since the Russian Cup in early July. Alternates will stay and train in Leninsk-Kuznetsky, which is in the same time zone as Beijing.

Lozhechko, a World Cup gold medalist and three-time world team member, was given a three-month suspension from the team last fall for defying the coaches at the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart. In the preliminaries, Lozhechko was instructed to dismount balance beam with a simple double tuck, but attempted a more difficult Arabian double front to increase her chances of getting into the beam final. She fell on the dismount and was an alternate to the final.

Lozhechko was criticized by the coaching staff for "mental problems" following her subpar finish at the Russian Cup. After finishing 12th in qualification, fifth in the final and third on beam, she was nevertheless given the final invitation to the training camp in Leninsk-Kuznetsky. However, her Olympic chances ended there, Rodionenko said.

"I'm very sorry to say that [taking] Lozhechko with us is an impossibility," Rodionenko said. "There are certain norms to which she, at present, does not correspond."

The Russian women won the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where the men finished sixth.

Announced last week, the Russian men's team consists of Maxim Deyvatovsky, Anton Golotsutskov, Sergei Khorokhordin, Nikolai Kryukov, Konstantin Pluzhnikov and Yuri Ryazanov.

"It was very uneasy to choose these six gymnasts from nine, and exclude the services of Alexander Balandin, Anatoly Vasilyev and Dmitry Gogotov," Rodionenko said. "However, these guys still continue to train on the same level with all of us. They understand perfectly: We're writing nobody off. Gymnastics is the kind of sport where injury is possible at any moment, and they all still have a chance to go to the Olympic Games."

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