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De Simone Secures Beijing Berth
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Lenika de Simone officially secured her spot at the Olympics after winning the Spanish Championships in Tafalla, Navarra, on Saturday.

De Simone, who missed Athens 2004 with a leg injury, had a solid competition and took her first Spanish title and golds on bars, beam and floor.

"The meet went OK, though I missed on bars," de Simone told IG on Tuesday. "I competed the routines that I plan to perform at the Games."

The vault gold medal went to all-around silver medalist Naomi Ruiz, who made a great step toward Beijing.

Five gymnasts entered the Championships as candidates for the Olympics, but only de Simone left with a booked flight. Ruiz and Laura Campos are still fighting for the second spot, while Mercedes Alcaide and Mélodie Pulgarín are out of contention according to national coach Jesús Carballo. Pulgarín didn't compete because of a leg injury sustained at the Blume World Cup and her Olympics hopes are lost. Alcaide had a rough meet with falls on bars and beam that likely put her out of the race.

De Simone dominated the competition and demonstrated her superiority with a total 58.950 despite an unusual fall on a Stalder on bars. Her best score came on beam, her best chance for an Olympic event final, where she did her usual routine (round-off layout mount; flic layout, layout; switch leap Rulfova; sheep jump; side aerial, side somi, front aerial; turn in attitude and an improved ff, ff double pike).

De Simone said she and Alcaide are scheduled to compete at meet this weekend in Schwäbisch-Gmünd with Germany, France and Romania.

The silver went to Ruiz (57.600), the gymnast most likely to accompany de Simone to Beijing. Ruiz had a clean competition but her lower A Scores put her behind de Simone. A good twister, Ruiz won gold on vault with a double-twisting Yurchenko and increased her difficulty on floor with a 2½ punch barani as a last pass. Naomi has been more consistent throughout the season than her teammates and this might play in her favor.

Lenika de Simone

The other top Olympic contender, Laura Campos, injured herself while warming up vault. After her second place at the Spanish Cup two weeks ago, Campos was the one to beat for the second Olympic ticket, but this injury may prevent her from being a two-time Olympian. Also injured on vault was 2006 Worlds alternate Cristina Riera. Her teammate Tamara Rodríguez finished fourth, vaulting a yurchenko 1½.

Ana María Izurieta easily won the junior title with near three points over Vanessa Sánchez. Izurieta, who injured herself on beam at Junior European Championships in Clermont-Ferrand, competed full difficulty in Tafalla for the first time this year. She vaulted a double-twisting Yurchenko, did a brilliant flic, layout to two feet on beam; Jaeger and open double pike on bars and tsukahra and triple twist on floor. Born in Ecuador, Izurieta is a Spanish citizen since 2006.

Silver medallist Sánchez had a rough meet with several falls but showed brilliance on bars, apparatus that she won. On third position came Cintia Rodríguez, a long-legged gymnast with interesting choreography and lines but who still lacks difficulty across the events.

Romanian-born Cristiana Mironescu, who's been living in Spain for several years now but doesn't have citizenship yet, attempted a flic, tucked full on beam. This time she didn't perform the Rulfova but dismounted with a roundoff double tuck. She was fourth in the open competition where foreigners are allowed to compete.

Other highlights of the Championships came from younger competitors. Laura Amengual competed a Comaneci on the low bar while the stand out of the weekend was little Roxana Popa, another Romanian native who swept the Alevín level despite a fall on a double tuck off bars.

2008 Spanish Women's Championships
July 4-5, Tafalla

Senior All-Around
1. Lenika de Simone 58.950
2. Naomi Ruiz 57.600
3. Mercedes Alcaide 55.050
4. Tamara Rodríguez 53.400
5. Ainoa Carmona 53.350
6. Laura Muñoz 51.750

Junior All-Around
1. Ana María Izurieta 57.350
2. Vanessa Sánchez 54.150
3. Cintia Rodríguez 50.650

1. Antonia Rojas 51.300
2. Gladis Pujol 50.100
3. Claudia Menéndez 49.250

1. Roxana Popa 51.900
2. Rosario Prieto 49.450
3. Natalia Ros 49.250

IG Online Related Items
De Simone, Campos Frontrunners for Beijing (July 4, 2008)
Chinese Win Six Golds in Spain (June 9, 2008)
De Simone Commits to Stanford (April 22, 2008)

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