Olympics: Gym Shorts: Once and Future Champ

Once and Future Champ

Fate works in quirky ways. Five years ago, Soviet Dmitri Bilozerchev, just 16, won the all-around title at the world gymnastics championships in Budapest with an astounding 59.85 points out of 60. The youngest male champion in the history of the sport, he performed routines of exquisite difficulty with a mature, polished technique, though his prime was still years away. "At music schools, they say of such children that they have the absolute sense of pitch," says his coach, Aleksandr Aleksandrov. "With Dmitri, he has the absolute sense of the art of gymnastics."

But Bilozerchev's natural gifts were nearly destroyed one...

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