Trent Dimas, the fourth-ranked male gymnast in the United States, attempted daring new moves on the high bar, and Mitch Gaylord, winner of four medals in the 1984 Olympics, did what he called "generic exhibition stuff."
In front of 4,812 spectators last night at George Mason University's Patriot Center, 12 past, present and future stars put on a dazzling display of gymnastics, doing 45-second routines in the different events in the Revco Gymnastics '90 Tour of Champions.
For Dimas, Gaylord, top-ranked Lance Ringnald, former champion-turned-diver Phoebe Mills, women's No. 1 Kim Zmeskal, ex-Olympic great Mary Lou Retton and others, the sport now means different things.
Videos of the former stars showed emotional Olympic moments, and their routines last night were, for the most part, nostalgic. The youngsters, on the other hand, let their routines provoke visions of future glory.
"All my routines are new. I'm making mistakes now, in time to get to the Olympic Games with flawless routines," said Dimas. "We're going to catch the Soviets."
Gaylord is pursuing a career in Hollywood. He's caught in a difficult situation. While the sport launched him in the movies (a director saw him in an exhibition and cast him in "American Anthem"), he is dogged by a perception of himself as a gymnast and is trying to get beyond the typecasting.
The youngsters aren't hindered by perceptions of the past. They're banking on the future. Betty Okino, the second-ranked female gymnast, tried her new triple pirouette move on the beam, faltered slightly and did three flips instead. Dimas tried a triple flyaway and hit it, then did a Kovacks (two flips with a flying grab at the bar) and landed face down on the mat.
"We call it the 'Eye of the Tiger,' " said Dimas. "The guys had it in '84. You could see it in their eyes. And we've taken it on. You might miss it 100 times but you have to get back on."