[to top of second column]
Certainly not four.
Though China led halfway through the meet, the teams finished up on balance beam and floor exercise, the Americans' best two events. And when Cheng fell off the beam, it gave the Americans a cushion. Get through those last two events, and the gold would be theirs.
But Sacramone, first up on balance beam, had to wait for what seemed like 15 minutes before she was given the go-ahead, and she seemed nervous as she paced back and forth. Sure enough, as she came down to land the somersault that opens her routine, her right foot slipped off the edge of the 4-inch beam.
Sacramone windmilled her arms and twisted her body, but she couldn't save herself and dropped off. Not only is the fall a penalty, but she never did the backflip that usually follows, costing her more precious points. Sacramone bit her lip after she finished, knowing it was a mistake the Americans couldn't afford.
Liukin gathered the girls together, telling them, "Just shake it off, that's all you can do. Shake it off." She and Johnson did, doing two beautiful routines that had the Americans within a point going into the final event.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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