© USA Gymnastics

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Feb. 12, 2009 – Fans attending the 2009 Tyson American Cup, scheduled for Feb. 21 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., will have the opportunity to experience some fun fan activities, in addition to witnessing some of the world’s top gymnasts and rising stars competing in the prestigious international invitational. The fun begins when the doors open at 12:30 p.m. and includes the " Celebration of Champions,"which recognizes former event champions who have also won Olympic gold medals.

" Gymnastics events are great family opportunities, and we want our fans to enjoy not only the drama and excitement of high-level, international competition, but also have a fun and entertaining time," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "This year’s Tyson American Cup will have the whole gamut – interactive concourse activities, a celebration of success and incredible gymnastics."

The fan activities scheduled at the Sears Centre Arena on Feb. 21 include the following opportunities:

  • "Celebration of Champions" autograph signing. Several former event champions who also won Olympic gold medals will sign autographs from 12:30-1:10 p.m. The former champions expected include Nastia Liukin, Mary Lou Retton, Kerri Strug, Stella Zakharova, Elena Zamolodchikova, Tim Daggett, Trent Dimas, Paul Hamm, Vitaly Scherbo and Peter Vidmar. These well-known gymnastics stars will also be recognized as part of the event’s opening ceremony.

  • Tyson Fitness Challenge Zone. Kids can have fun and learn about the importance of fitness through the interactive Tyson Fitness Challenge Zone. The zone features activity in building strength, flexibility, cardiovascular exercise and good nutrition. 2004 Olympic team silver-medalist Blaine Wilson and former collegiate gymnast Beth Horn will sign autographs for participants who complete the Tyson Fitness Challenge Zone, which is open from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

  • AT&T Experience. Fans can enjoy an interactive zone featuring AT&T products and services with added entertainment value.

  • Chicago 2016 booth. Fans are encouraged to stop by Chicago 2016’s booth to learn about and pledge their support for the city’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

  • WGYM radio. 2008 Olympic team silver-medalist Chellsie Memmel and Dan Gill, a successful elite and collegiate gymnast, will provide commentary and insights during the Tyson American Cup on WGYM, USA Gymnastics’in-house radio show available in the arena. Receivers for the radio program are sold along with an event program.

"This is a most rare opportunity for the general public to actually have a chance to interact with Olympic athletes," said Jeff Bowen, president of the Sears Centre Arena. "We are very excited to be a part of this history-making event and encourage everyone to join us at Sears Centre Arena for the 2009 Tyson American Cup!"

On Friday, Feb. 20, Tyson American Cup ticket holders may also attend a USA-Japan women’ friendly dual meet at the Sears Centre Arena. The dual meet begins at 8 p.m. CT, with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. The dual meet participants are not gymnasts competing in the Tyson American Cup. A ticket for Saturday’s session is required for admittance to the USA-Japan friendly dual meet.

Celebration of Champions
To celebrate the event’s history, USA Gymnastics is recognizing former event champions who also won Olympic gold medals. Those expected to attend the 2009 Tyson American Cup include Nastia Liukin, Mary Lou Retton, Kerri Strug, Stella Zakharova, Elena Zamolodchikova, Tim Daggett, Trent Dimas, Paul Hamm, Vitaly Scherbo and Peter Vidmar.

Many of the USA’s best-known gymnasts are both former event champions and Olympic gold medalists (years indicate event victories): women – Nastia Liukin (2005-06, 2008), Shawn Johnson (2007), Carly Patterson (2003-04), Kerri Strug (1996), Dominique Dawes (1994), Shannon Miller (1993), Mary Lou Retton (1983-85) and Julianne McNamara (1981-82); and men – Paul Hamm (2008), Trent Dimas (1991), Tim Daggett (1985), Peter Vidmar (1983-84) and Bart Conner (1976, 1981-82). Five international athletes also won both this prestigious event and Olympic gold medals during their careers: women – Romania’s Nadia Comaneci (1976), Russia’s Stella Zakharova (1979) and Elena Zamolodchikova (2001); and men – Japan’s Mitsuo Tsukahara (1977) and Belarus’ Vitaly Scherbo (1993-94).

Liukin, Patterson and Retton are the only U.S. women who have won an Olympic all-around title, claiming the gold medals in 2008, 2004 and 1984, respectively. Johnson and Miller became Olympic champions on the balance beam in 2008 and 1996, respectively, and are the only two U.S. women to win Olympic gold on that event. At the 1996 Olympic Games, Miller and her Magnificent Seven teammates Dawes and Strug won the U.S. women’s only Olympic team gold medal. McNamara is the 1984 Olympic uneven bars champion, the only U.S. gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal on that event.

Paul Hamm made history at the 2004 Olympic Games when he became the first U.S. man to win the Olympic all-around title. Dimas earned the gold medal on horizontal bar at the 1992 Olympic Games. Conner, Daggett and Vidmar were members of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team that won the U.S. men’s only Olympic team gold medal. Conner and Vidmar also claimed individual gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games, winning the parallel bars and pommel horse, respectively.

Comaneci is five-time Olympic gold medalist, winning the all-around, uneven bars and balance beam in 1976 and the balance beam and floor exercise in 1980. Zakharova was a member of the Russian team that earned the team gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Games, and Zamolodchikova won the Olympic vault and floor exercise crowns in 2000. Scherbo dominated the men’s competition at the 1992 Olympic Games with his gold-medal performances in the all-around, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and team competition. Tsukahara and his Japanese teammates won three consecutive Olympic team gold medals in 1968, 1972 and 1976, and he earned the horizontal bar titles in 1972 and 1976.

The 2009 Tyson American Cup
The USA’s 2008 Olympic medalists Bridget Sloan of Pittsboro, Ind., and Joseph Hagerty of Rio Rancho, N.M., 2008 U.S. all-around champion David Sender of Arlington Heights, Ill., and 2008 U.S. junior all-around champion Jordyn Wieber of DeWitt, Mich., are representing the USA in the 2009 Tyson American Cup.

Other 2008 Olympic medalists who have accepted invitations to compete are Olympic all-around bronze-medalist Benoit Caranobe of France and Olympic horizontal bar bronze-medalist Fabian Hambuechen of Germany. In addition to Caranobe, Hambuechen, Hagerty and Sloan, the other 2008 Olympians in the field are: Great Britain’s Rebecca Downie, Japan’s Koko Tsurumi, Puerto Rico’s Luis Rivera Rivera, Romania’s Adrian Bucur, Russia’s Yury Ryazanov and Venezuela’s Jessica Lopez. Five of the 2008 Olympians were all-around finalists in Beijing: men – Caranobe, Hambuechen and Rivera; and women – Downie and Tsurumi.

On sale now, ticket prices range from $19.50-$125 and are subject to applicable fees and availability. Tickets may be purchased charge by phone at 312-559-1212 or 1-888-SEARSTIX; online at www.ticketmaster.com; at all Ticketmaster outlets; or at the Sears Centre Arena Box Office. Visa is the preferred method of payment.

The 2009 Tyson American Cup on Feb. 21 features an all-around format and will be televised live on Universal Sports at 2:30 p.m. ET, with continuing action on NBC Sports at 4 p.m. ET.

Some of the sport’s biggest names are former Tyson American Cup all-around gold medalists, including: men – Paul Hamm, Jonathan Horton, Jason Gatson, Blaine Wilson, John Roethlisberger, Vitaly Scherbo (Belarus), Tim Daggett, Peter Vidmar, Mitsuo Tsukahara (Japan), Kurt Thomas and Bart Conner; and women – Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Carly Patterson, Elena Zamolodchikova (Russia), Kerri Strug, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Kim Zmeskal, Kristie Phillips, Mary Lou Retton, Julianne McNamara, Stella Zakharova (USSR) and Nadia Comaneci (Romania).

Past sites for this event include: New York City (1976-80, 1982-84, 2004, 2008); Ft. Worth Texas (1981, 1996-98); Indianapolis, Ind. (1985); Fairfax, Va. (1986-90, 2003); Orlando, Fla. (1991-94, 2000-02); Seattle, Wash. (1995); St. Petersburg, Fla. (1999); Uniondale, N.Y. (2005); Philadelphia (2006); and Jacksonville, Fla. (2007).