Sorry, Svetlana. There's a new Queen of Gymnastics, and her name is Carly Patterson.
The 16-year-old American who drew comparisons to Mary Lou Retton delivered a dazzling routine on the floor to close out the all-around Thursday night
and spoil Russian superstar Svetlana Khorkina's final chance at Olympic gold in gymnastics' premier event.
Patterson became the first American woman to win gold since Retton did in 1984, and the second in two days, matching Paul Hamm's first-place finish on
the same floor Wednesday.
"Strong. Sturdy. Just like we expected. It's great. She was beautiful,'' said Bela Karolyi, who coached Retton in 1984 and was in the stands for this
Khorkina, who for years called herself the "Queen of Gymnastics,'' still took the one prize that has eluded her during an entertaining and wildly
successful career -- a medal in the Olympic all-around.
And when it was over, she acted like a champion, saluting the crowd, grabbing the Russian flag and taking it to the uneven bars, where she showed it
off and dragged it across the lower bar. She'll try to add to her silver medal Sunday, going for her third Olympic gold in the uneven bars.
Zhang Nan of China won the bronze in the all-around.
Patterson isn't close to being as graceful a ballerina as Khorkina. She's more athletic, more explosive and on this night, she was just a little bit
Like Khorkina, Patterson closed the night on the floor. On all four tumbling passes, she jumped higher than any of the other 23 women in the meet.
Just as important, she pulled off perfect landings that almost always make the difference between first and second.
When it was over, Patterson jumped into coach Evgeny Marchenko's embrace and wrapped her arms around his neck, and he carried her around for almost a
minute. That was before the final results were flashed on the scoreboard.
When they were, Patterson had the title she's worked a lifetime for, Marchenko lifted her on his left shoulder and paraded her in front of the fans --
a champion's chariot for a championship effort.