HARTFORD, Conn., June 10, 2010 – USA Gymnastics today announced the Champions Challenge, a newly created $50,000 prize pool for senior men’s gymnastics at the 2010 Visa Championships, Aug. 10-14, at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. International Gymnastics Camp, based in Stroudsburg, Pa., is the first to contribute to the prize list and is the exclusive gymnastics camp associated with the Champions Challenge.

The Champions Challenge is designed to meet the ever-increasing demands of training for men’s gymnastics at the elite level, because many of the country’s top athletes are no longer in school and under NCAA regulation. They are working to support themselves while competing to represent the United States on the international stage. The $50,000 Champions Challenge has been established to enhance their athlete funding and assist them in covering the costs of their year-round training regimen. A prize list will be created for the top eligible all-around finishers and individual event champions.

“USA Gymnastics has developed creative models in the past to help support our male athletes who are training at the highest level,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “The Champions Challenge is the next evolution of that and we are thrilled to work with IGC in providing this opportunity. It will be a welcome increase of support for our top male gymnasts who no longer have NCAA eligibility concerns.”

“We want to make a positive and impactful contribution to our country’s top gymnasts,” said Brent Klaus, CEO of International Gymnastics Camp. “This type of support helps our men pursue their dreams of medaling in London in 2012. The U.S. men’s program has come a long way in the past decade, with podium finishes at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. This is our way of contributing to that effort.”

“The Champions Challenge will genuinely help the top male gymnasts,” said Jonathan Horton of Houston, the defending U.S. all-around champion, the 2008 Olympic high bar silver medalist, and a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Men’s Team that won the bronze medal. “Leading up to Beijing, I was a collegiate gymnast. Now, I am married and responsible for both my living and training expenses. This type of program alleviates some of the financial concerns and motivates me even more to focus all of my energies on training and competition.”

The Champions Challenge will award $10,000 to the senior men’s all-around champion, and $2,500 to each individual event winner. Plans are to award prize money to the top 10 eligible all-around finishers. If an NCAA athlete finishes in the top spots, the money will drop to the next eligible gymnast.

About IGC
International Gymnastics Camp combines premier gymnastics training and exceptional recreation activities to create the ultimate summer gymnastics camp experience. IGC campers range in age from 7 to 17 and from beginner to advanced gymnasts. Its gymnastics camp program and recreational activities, such as Scary Aerie ropes and climbing course and Recreation Challenge Area, allow campers to gain self-confidence and build self-esteem. IGC creates opportunities for campers to feel positive about themselves and their accomplishments both inside and outside of the gym. It has a 100-acre facility created exclusively for gymnasts; five state-of-the-art, air-conditioned gyms; and a professional, knowledgeable and caring staff with a 1 to 3 overall staff ratio and a 1 to 8 coaching ratio, plus two counselors living in every cabin.

Background on the Visa Championships
In 2010, the Visa Championships visit Connecticut for the first time. The event features four of USA Gymnastics’ competitive disciplines – men’s and women’s gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling. The Visa Championships determine the U.S. champions and the national team for each discipline for both the junior and senior elite levels. NBC Sports and Universal Sports will broadcast and webcast the action from the men’s and women’s gymnastics competitions.

Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster by phone at 800-745-3000; online at www.ticketmaster.com; at all Ticketmaster outlets; or at the XL Center Ticket Office. Men’s and women’s gymnastics will be held at the XL Center, with rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling scheduled for the University of Hartford’s Chase Arena at the Reich Family Pavilion. Visa is the only card accepted for the 2010 Visa Championships.

The USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show is held in conjunction with the Visa Championships and will be conducted at the Connecticut Convention Center. The USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show is the annual gathering of professional members that offers educational and business sessions, a large exhibitor’s hall and other business and educational opportunities.