May 23, 1977 - May 4, 1997
Over the past several months I have received quite a few e-mail messages from fans who were shocked to learn of the death of the 1991 silver medal-winning U.S. world gymnastics team member Hilary Grivich. While there are already several sites out there dedicated to the memory of this great athlete, I felt I should say something about her too since she and Kim were best friends and even shared an apartment in Houston for awhile.
She will be greatly missed.
Our loving thoughts go out to her parents Peter and Helen, and her younger brother, Alex.
both photos by Matthew Barber
8:29 PM 5/4/1997Silver Medalist Grivich Killed in Auto Accident
By JOHN P. LOPEZ
Copyright 1997 Houston Chronicle
Hilary Grivich, a key member of the 1991 silver medal-winning U.S. world gymnastics team, died Sunday morning in a one-car automobile accident in north Houston.
Grivich, of Huntsville, once was considered among the most consistent and talented gymnasts in the United States. She would have been 20 on May 23.
"Hilary was one of the most dedicated gymnasts we've ever coached," said Houston's Bela Karolyi, who coached Grivich during her international gymnastics career, which ended at the Olympic Trials in 1992. "Hilary had an unusual will to perform. I'm always going to remember her and cherish those moments when she competed for our club. She was all heart."
Houston police said one of the wheels on Grivich's 1993 Nissan Altima struck a concrete barrier in a southbound lane of the 2000 block of North Freeway about 6:15 a.m. Her car spun out of control and flipped several times crushing the roof with the gymnast still strapped inside. She was alone in the car and was dead at the scene, police said.
"I don't know what to say, I'm devastated," 1992 and 1996 Olympic medal-winner Kerri Strug said. "Hilary was a great friend and had the best attitude of any athlete I've ever been around. When all the hard work and competition would get to us, Hilary always was the one making jokes and putting everything in perspective.
"Things like this shouldn't ever happen. I'm in shock. She was such a great person. She was one of the best people I've ever known."
Funeral arrangements are planned for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Settegast-Kopf Funeral Chapel, 3320 Kirby Drive.
A family friend said Grivich's parents, Peter and Helen Grivich, have discussed creating a garden near the Champions area as a memorial to her.
"The entire country should remember Hilary and thank her for the kind of person and gymnast she was," Karolyi said. "When she competed for the United States in the 1991 World Championships, Hilary was so solid and perfect. She was the main ingredient, starting the team off with great performances. Without Hilary, I don't think we would have won that medal."
That 1991 U.S. performance in the world championships has been widely credited for carrying American gymnastics to the top of the world, ultimately leading to the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Grivich was the lead gymnast on many apparatus in the 1991 meet, putting up high scores and leading the way to America's first medal in a non-boycotted international meet.
At the 1992 Olympic Trials, Grivich was considered a favorite to make the Barcelona Olympic team. But in a scene Karolyi said he never will forget, Grivich consistently earned lower scores than many observers believed she deserved. She missed making the team by less than two-tenths of a point.
"It was politics, as usual," said Karolyi, referring to his long-held belief that powers within the sport did not want Karolyi to have four gymnasts on the seven-member 1992 team. The other Karolyi gymnasts to make the Barcelona team were Kim Zmeskal, Strug and Betty Okino.
"Hilary was the unlucky one at the trials," he said. "It was certainly difficult for me to accept at the time and it still upsets me. It was totally politics. I suffered for Hilary. It was very upsetting. She deserved to be on that team. She was the victim of the time."
Still, Grivich shook off the disappointment to earn a diving scholarship at the University of Houston. She hoped to someday make the U.S. Olympic Team as a diver.
"Typical Hilary, she moved on and would not give up," Karolyi said. "She still had the guts to get involved in a brand new sport. She was an amazing person."
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