Greek tragedy strikes Maras again

Vlasios Maras of Greece falls off the high bar leaving him no hope of being among the eight who advanced to the finals.

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BEIJING // Vlasios Maras of Greece fell off the high bar, his best event, leaving him no hope of being among the eight who advanced to the finals in the Beijing Olympics. His score of 13.975 was almost a full point behind the eighth-best score on the high bar - and that was only after the first of the three rotations. "I wanted to make a perfect routine, but something went wrong," the downcast Maras said. "It's very much a disappointment. It's one of the worst games in the time I'm doing gymnastics." It is the second Olympic tragedy for the Greek. He went to Athens - his hometown - as a favourite to win a medal, if not take the gold, on the high bar after winning the world title in 2001 and 2002. But he competed in the first qualifying session in Athens, too, when scores tend to be at their lowest. When the day ended, 12 other gymnasts had higher scores. Although only the top eight usually make the final - with a limit of two per country - 10 gymnasts wound up in the final because there were so many ties. But Maras was not part of the crowd, winding up as the first alternate. The outraged Greeks protested, but the appeal was denied. There still is some hope for Maras, though. The 25-year-old said he plans to continue competing for another five years. "This is my target and we'll see," he said. "I want to be one of the few gymnasts who continue into the top eight."