LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – (Apr. 19, 2012) – Podium training at the 2012 Acrobatic Gymnastics World Age Group Championships got underway today at the HP Field House at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Walt Disney World, with gymnasts getting the opportunity to practice their routines on the competition floor for the first time.

In its first edition being held outside Europe, the Age Group Worlds has drawn more than 300 competitors from 32 countries. They will be vying for gold in one of the five acrobatic disciplines: men’s and women’s pairs, mixed pairs, and men’s and women’s groups.

"I definitely think we have home field advantage," said Kennedy Swanson, 16, of Blue Springs, Mo., who will compete in the women’s pairs competition with partner Mariah Cockshell of Lee’s Summit, Mo. The duo finished sixth overall in World Age Group competition in Poland in 2010. "We’ve always had to go overseas to compete, and I feel like this is our shot – we really have an advantage here."

The large U.S. team, comprised of 22 athletes between the ages of 10 and 19 years old, form one Mixed Pair, four women’s Pairs, and four girls’ groups. Though young, most have been dedicated much of their free time to training acro for years.

"I like competing and the whole atmosphere of competing," said Joshua Miles of Temecula, Calif., who is competing in his first World Age Group competition with partner Kiley Boynton of Riverside, Calif. "Meeting people from other countries has been super awesome," he added. Of being the only U.S. man competing in World Age Group competition and training amongst 21 women for several days, Miles, 16, said: "It is quite interesting. But we all do Acro, so at least we have something in common."

The Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Acrobatic Gymnastics World Age Group Competition begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 20, with qualifying rounds for the competition immediately afterward. Each pair or group will present three different routines, showing mastery of balance, acrobatic dynamics and a combined exercise. Finals will be held on April 22, 2012.

The competition comes on the heels of the World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships, which concluded Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista.