It was the pint-sized 16-year-old Kim Zmeskal who was poised to bring the U.S. glory in Barcelona. Weighing in at 80 pounds, Zmeskal made up for her diminutive stature in gymnastic expertise.
Zmeskal, at the time the reining world champion, was feeling the strain both mentally and physically, facing “persistent pain from a stress fracture in her left wrist and the psychological pressure of being the person everyone else wants to beat,” TIME wrote in its 1992 cover story. But her “dynamic, explosive” style was expected to wow judges and spectators alike. Her Barcelona performance, though, was hardly as graceful as her TIME cover image. Stepping out of bounds during her routine dropped her to 10th place.