OLYMPICS: The Games: Up in the Air

It is an Olympiad of contradictions. There she stands, poised on the balance beam—a 4-in. strip of spruce, 16½ ft. long, 4 ft. above the padded flooring. The palms of her hands are coated with gymnasts' chalk that is as white as her uniform, as white as her face. She is an infinitely solemn wisp of a girl, 4 ft. 11 in. tall, a mere 86 Ibs.; dark circles above her cheeks; a Kean-eyed elf. Then, with no more strain than it would take to raise a hand to a friend, she is...

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