I had modest success in the Big Ten gymnastics meet, winning one title: the pommel horse in 1952. On a bigger stage, however, I left a major imprint. In 1952, I was the NCAA champion in the pommel horse. A year later, I earned All-America honors in that event as well as parallel bars and all-around. I went on to become the first executive director of the U.S. Gymnastics Federation and its successor organization, USA Gymnastics.
I was a three-time All-Big Ten performer in gymnastics. I captured a conference title in the vault in 1990, three years after I qualified for the NCAA meet in the all-around. Because of my accomplishments, I was voted to the Big Ten's All-Decade team for the 1980s.
MELBOURNE, Australia – Illinois gymnast Justin Spring, the U.S. National high bar champion, scored a 9.562 Tuesday to qualify as one of the reserves in the event at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.
I was a four-time state champion in gymnastics at New Trier before arriving at Illinois, with three of those titles coming in 1957. That success carried over to college, where I was a seven-time All-American from 1960 to '62. The highlight of my career came in 1960, when I captured the NCAA title in floor exericise, an event I also won twice at the Big Ten meet. But I was hardly a one-event specialist, as I proved in 1962 by winning the Big Ten all-around crown.
CHAMPAIGN – Illinois women's gymnastics coach Bob Starkell signed three recruits to national letters of intent Wednesday.
Nicole Cowart of Greenwood, Ind.; Lori Hamilton of Mississauga, Ontario; and Sarah Schmidt of Hartland, Wis., will join the Illini in the fall of 2006.
I won consecutive Big Ten gymnastics titles in the side horse (now called the pommel horse) in 1971 and '72. Those were the Illini's first conference crowns in the event since 1962. I also was an All-American in the event in 1970. Before making my mark at Illinois, I was an IHSA state champion in the pommel horse in 1968 for Prospect High in Mount Prospect.
I was twice named the UI's most outstanding gymnast, securing those honors in 2001 and '02, though I shared it with Ashley Williams in the latter season. I was a regional qualifier three times: 2000 (balance beam), 2001 (all-around) and 2002 (all-around). My strongest event was the beam, where I recorded four scores of 9.925.
URBANA – If Justin Spring has his way, he'll spend Thanksgiving in Australia.
"I'll be having turkey dinner over in Melbourne if it all works out," the Illinois gymnast said.
I had a short but highly successful career as an Illini men's gymnast. In 1988, I was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after winning the league's all-around and pommel horse titles. I also was an All-American that year in the pommel horse. Those feats were a prelude to my making the 1988 U.S. Olympic team. I also competed in the '92 Olympics and was a five-year member of the U.S. National Team. In 1989, I helped the Illini repeat as Big Ten champs and win the NCAA crown. After that I continued my college career at Temple, winning the 1992 NCAA title in parallel bars.
I was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1980 after a stellar collegiate and international career. At Illinois, I was an eight-time All-American and a two-time NCAA champion: in the all-around in 1956 and the floor exercise three years later. A member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team, I also shined in multiple appearances in the Pan American Games. I was the 1963 Pan Am gold medalist in the parallel bars and medaled five times for U.S. teams that won Pan Am titles in 1959 and '63. I later coached men's gymnastics at Yale, where I'm now director of sports camps and physical education athletics.