Joy for gymnast from Ukraine


LILIA PODKOPAYVA reinforced her challenge for Olympic honours with two more gold medals at the European Women's Championships in Birmingham yesterday. The Ukrainian, crowned all-round champion on Saturday, won further honours in the asymmetric bars and floor finals.

Romania's Simona Amanar also took two golds, sharing the asymmetric bars title in a rare three-way split with Podkopayeva and Russian Svetlana Khorkina.

Amanar, who narrowly missed out on a medal in the overall event but won team gold on Friday, also took gold on the vault, the apparatus on which she was world champion last year.

Crowd favourite Lavinia Milosovici, who will defend the Olympic floor title in Atlanta after winning with a perfect 10 in Barcelona, shared the floor gold with Podkopayeva.

Veteran Svetlana Boginskaya, who made a triumphant comeback from retirement on Saturday with overall silver at the age of 23, missed out on more medals. Her top place was fourth on the beam.

Podkopayeva, who missed last month's individual event world championships in Puerto Rico to concentrate on the European contest - the last major event before Atlanta - also took bronze on the vault.