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So Simpson came under the tutelage of Irina V dovets in the Chicago area where she resides. "Our relationship is more than that of a coach/gymnast. She isn't that much older than me, so we can really relate to each other."

Many are the hours Diane spends talking on the phone and ad miring the spoils of hel talents. (USGF photo Š 1986 by Bret Priebe)

To V dovets' credit, according to Simpson, is the fact that she harps on the fundamentals. "My structure in the basics has really helped me. We spend an hour every day on dance, ballet and jazz. Before we practice at all, we spend one-half hour on ballet on the barre, and another half-hour on flexibility. We don't just warm up and work. That's not the way we are," she said.

Her ascent towards the top of the rhythmic ladder has come with hard work, of which she is not afraid. In the 1984 Championships of the USA, Simpson placed a lowly 21st and nobody really paid much attention to her. One year later, she bolted to third nationally which had the rhythmics community wondering where she came from . In 1986, she placed second, behind Marina Kunyavsky, all-around. While, nationally, she is not the U.S.'s top rated rhythmic gymnast, internationally, she has become one of the top award-winners for the United States. In 1986 she competed in the Goodwill Games with Kunyavsky, Irina Rubenshtein and Elizabeth Cull. There she placed 12th. "I was astounded I was in 12th place with the people who were there," said Simpson. "My showing there helped me in the Four Continents meet, which I finished fourth ." Only a mistake with her clubs kept her from a medal. Her best meet came this year during the Olympic Festival. "Considering I had a broken finger, I feel I did really 12

well," said the all-around gold medalist. "I have a problem overcoming things, and on the first day, I could really feel the finger; honestly, I thought I was going to scratch. But 1 really wanted to prove something to myself." On the floor, she looks as confident as can be. Moving with the apparatus, she admits she used to be petrified of the crowd. "I had a real hard time adjusting to other

Profile for USA Gymnastics

USA Gymnastics - January/February 1987  

USA Gymnastics - January/February 1987