Mohini Bhardwaj : biography
Mohini Bhardwaj (born September 29, 1978) is a retired American gymnast who competed at the 1997 and 2001 World Championships and earned a team silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She is the first Indian-American gymnast, and the second Indian-American athlete overall, ever to medal at the Olympics. Prabhjot Singh, The Tribune, August 19, 2004
Major competition results
2004 Olympic Games: 2nd team; 6th FX 2004 US Olympic Trials: 6th AA 2004 US Championships: 12th AA; 2nd VT 2001 World Championships: 3rd team; 18th AA; 7th VT 2001 Pan American Championships: 1st Team; 2nd AA; 5th VT 2001 US Championships: 3rd AA; 1st VT; 2nd UB; 6th VT; 7th FX (tie) 2001 NCAA Championships: 1st Team; 1st FX 2000 NCAA Championships: 1st Team; 2nd AA; 1st UB; 2nd BB; 5th VT 1999 NCAA Championships: 11th AA; 6th UB 1999 World University Games: AA (qualified) 1998 NCAA Championships: 4th UB; 7th VT 1997 World Championships: 6th Team; 5th VT 1997 US Championships: 3rd AA; 3rd VT (tie); 5th FX 1997 American Cup: 10th AA (preliminary competition) 1996 US Olympic Trials: 10th AA 1996 US Championships: 12th AA (tie); 2nd BB; 4th VT; 4th UB; 5th FX (tie) 1996 Pacific Alliance Championships: 1st team; 1st AA; 1st VT; 2nd BB; 3rd FX 1996 Moscow World Stars: 4th AA; 2nd UB; 3rd BB; 3rd VT 1995 US Championships: 15th AA; 4th UB (tie); 6th BB 1995 Atlanta Invitational (Olympics Test Event): 8th AA; 1st VT 1995 China Cup: 7th AA; 2nd mixed pairs; 3rd BB: 5th UB (tie); 7th VT 1995 International Mixed Pairs: 5th 1995 US Olympic Festival: 5th AA; 2nd VT; 2nd UB 1994 Puerto Rico International Gymnastics Cup: 2nd VT; 3rd BB 1994 US Championships: 35th AA 1994 US Olympic Festival: 7th AA (tie); 5th BB; 6th VT 1993 US Championships: 10th AA
Bhardwaj currently works as a coach at Acrovision Sports Center in Bend, Oregon. She is married to Jeff Barry, a United States Marine, and welcomed a son in 2009.
Bhardwaj's reputation as a wild child scared off some NCAA recruiters, but Val Kondos, head coach for UCLA, awarded her a full gymnastics scholarship. Her partying continued through her freshman year, prompting Kondos to issue her an ultimatum to remain on the team.
Kondos' faith paid off: by 1999, Bhardwaj had changed her ways and became a key member of the Bruins. Her gymnastics flourished in the college environment, her difficulty on all events increased, and she developed a new artistic style on floor exercise. During her time at UCLA, Bhardwaj earned All-American honors eleven times, earned 23 individual titles, and was the first gymnast from UCLA to be a four-time All-American on the uneven bars. As a senior, she won both the AAI American Award and the prestigious Honda Award.
After ending her UCLA career with a new perspective and work ethic, Bhardwaj returned to elite competition. At the 2001 U.S. National Championships, she won the vault title and placed 3rd in the all-around. She was named to the American team for the 2001 World Championships in Ghent, Belgium, where she contributed to the U.S. squad's bronze medal, placed 18th in the all-around and 7th in the vault event final.
In 2002, however, Bhardwaj suffered a dislocated elbow, an injury so serious that she retired for a year before deciding to return to training in 2003. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, August 22, 2004 Off the national team and running low on funds, Bhardwaj found herself taking odd jobs, such as waitressing and delivering pizzas, to pay for her gymnastics training and personal expenses. By 2004 she was in debt and could not afford to attend the U.S. Olympic Trials and other competitions. Baywatch star Pamela Anderson learned of Bhardwaj's challenges when she purchased a raffle ticket on her behalf, became a personal supporter, and gave the gymnast a generous $20,000 grant to support her training expenses. Reuters, August 18, 2004
At the 2004 Nationals, Bhardwaj placed a disappointing 12th in the all-around, just snagging the final spot in the Olympic Trials when Ashley Postell fell on bars, effectively handing her spot to Mohini. But Bhardwaj went on to make the most of her chance, earning sixth place at the Trials and earning an invitation to the subsequent closed-door selection camp at the Karolyi ranch. There she impressed national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and the other selectors enough to not only earn a place on the team, but to be named its captain. Her strength and consistency on vault were expected to add balance to a team already formidable on beam and bars,, San Diego Union-Tribune, August 14, 2004. but at the Athens Games she placed 20th on vault and failed to qualify for the event final. She was the only American to qualify for the floor final, where she finished in sixth place. Had Bhardwaj competed with a routine with a start value of 10 instead of the 9.7 she received, she would have won a medal. She finished eighth in qualifying for the all-around competition behind teammates Carly Patterson (1st) and Courtney Kupets (4th), and would easily have been among the 24 to make the final; however, since each team could send just two gymnasts, she became the only competitor finishing in the top ten to not make the all-around finals."Gymnastics at the 2004 Summer Olympics – Women's artistic qualification", wikipedia article.
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