Soviets in the 1987 world championships in Rotterdam? Is Romania's
defending all-around world champion, 15-year-old Aurelia Dobre, who
has already been crowned the new Nadia, fully recovered from a
reported broken kneecap sustained in training last spring? Is Daniela
Silivas, Dobre's teammate, even better than the new Nadia, as many in
the West believe? Information on these and other matters has been in
short supply in recent months, in part because the Romanian
Gymnastics Federation has been asking foreign journalists for as much
as $75,000 for photo-and-interview sessions.
The Soviet women are on a mission to avenge their loss in
Rotterdam. Led by former world cochampion Elena Shushunova and Olga
Strazheva -- would you believe, the next Olga Korbut? -- the Soviet
team is deeper and more polished than the flamboyant Romanians. They
also have a better draw, competing in the second group, which
traditionally gets higher marks from the judges. The bronze medal
will be a battle among the East Germans, Chinese and Bulgarians.
No suspense in the men's competition: There the Soviets are in a
class by themselves, and with Dmitri Bilozerchev, Vladimir Artemov
and Valeri Lyukin, they could sweep the individual all-around
competition. The Chinese men are on the next level down from the
Soviets. The Bulgarians, Hungarians, Japanese and East Germans will
vie for the bronze. -- E.M.S.