NEW YORK CITY, N.Y., Feb. 24, 2008 – With the 2008 Olympic Games less than six months away, New York City and fabled Madison Square Garden will serve as a colorful and dramatic backdrop when USA Gymnastics begins its Road to Beijing with the Tyson American Cup on March 1 at 11:30 a.m. In addition to having the world’s top gymnasts competing, the audience is expected to include some of the sport’s best-known Olympic champions like Mary Lou Retton, Shannon Miller, Bart Conner, Nadia Comaneci Kerri Strug and Dominique Moceanu, not to mention the legendary coach Bela Karolyi. Fan activities planned prior to and on March 1 add to the excitement of this prestigious international invitational.
"There is no better place to kick off the Olympic year than New York City and Madison Square Garden,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “The history and tradition of the Tyson American Cup are very meaningful to everyone connected with USA Gymnastics, especially its roots in New York City."
Many of the world’s top gymnasts hope to have the 2008 Tyson American Cup be the first step in successfully achieving their Olympic dreams. The field includes: 2007 all-around world champion and Tyson American Cup titlist Shawn Johnson; 2004 all-around Olympic champion Paul Hamm; 2007 balance beam and team world champion Nastia Liukin; 2007 all-around world silver-medalist Fabian Hambuechen; 2006 pommel horse world bronze-medalist Alexander Artemev; 2007 all-around world bronze-medalist Hisashi Mizutori; 2006-07 Tyson American Cup champ Jonathan Horton, fourth in the all-around at the 2007 World Championships; 2001 and 2003 team world silver-medalist Raj Bhavsar; and 2007 team world champions Samantha Peszek and Shayla Worley (along with Johnson and Liukin).
On sale now, tickets range from $25-200 and may be purchased charge by phone at 866-448-7849; online at www.thegarden.com; at all Ticketmaster outlets; or at the Madison Square Garden Box Office. Visa is the preferred method of payment.
This will be the tenth time the invitational competition has been held at Madison Square Garden (MSG) and the fifth time New York has hosted it in an Olympic year. Three times in the event’s history, the women’s American Cup champion has gone on to win the Olympic all-around title: 1976, Nadia Comaneci; 1984, Mary Lou Retton; and 2004, Carly Patterson.
To celebrate the arrival of the Tyson American Cup, there are a number of fan activities scheduled, both prior to and on the day of competition.
- On Feb. 25, gymnasts from three local clubs, fans and commuters will vie to see who can hold a handstand for the longest time at Penn Station. 1996 Olympic champion Kerri Strug will be on hand to guide those trying their luck with a handstand. Prizes will be awarded to the winners, and both WPLJ radio and CW11 TV will be covering the action. Local clubs who will provide demonstrations and handstand contestants are Asphalt Green Gymnastics, Chelsea Piers Gymnastics, Exper-Tise Gymnastics, Powerplay and Paragon School of Gymnastics.
- Several great interactive opportunities are available for fans on March 1 at Madison Square Garden in conjunction with the Tyson American Cup. All are located on the concourse.
- Mary Lou Retton autograph signing. 1984 Olympic gold-medalist Mary Lou Retton will be signing autographs from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
- Tyson Fitness Challenge Zone. Kids can have fun and gain knowledge on the importance of fitness through the interactive Tyson Fitness Challenge Zone. The course features activity in building strength, flexibility, cardiovascular exercise and good nutrition. 2007 world champion Alicia Sacramone will help participants during the course. The Tyson Fitness Challenge Zone will be open from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
- Tyson Gold Medal Mom contest. Through the Tyson Gold Medal Mom kiosk, fans can record a 60-second video telling why their mom should be chosen as Tyson’s Gold Medal Mom. All entries are placed into a national contest, and the eventual winner will receive a VIP package to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games. The kiosk will be open throughout the entire competition.
- AT&T interactive zone. Fans can enjoy several interactive entertainment activities, including checking out ATT’s blueroom on the Internet and getting their photo taken in front of a gymnastics-themed green screen, as well as learn about AT&T products and services. The AT&T zone will be located on the sixth floor concourse near section 65.
- Shannon Miller, the USA’s most decorated gymnast with 16 Olympic and World medals to her credit, and Dan Gill, a successful elite and collegiate gymnast, will provide commentary on the Tyson American Cup on WGYM, USA Gymnastics radio show on the event that is available in the arena. Receivers for the radio program are sold along with an event program onsite.
Johnson and Horton return to defend their 2007 Tyson American Cup titles. Horton won the Tyson American Cup in both 2006 and 2007. Liukin was the 2006 all-around champion. The field for the 2008 Tyson American Cup is listed below.
Alyssa Brown, Canada
Xiao Tingting, China
Nathalia Sanchez, Colombia
Joeline Moebius, Germany
Shawn Johnson, USA/West Des Moines, Iowa
Nastia Liukin, USA/Parker, Texas
Samantha Peszek, USA/Indianapolis, Ind.
Shayla Worley, USA/Orlando, Fla.
Lu Bo, China
Fabian Hambuechen, Germany
Hisashi Mizutori, Japan
Flavius Koczi, Romania
Alexander Artemev, USA/Lakewood, Colo.
Raj Bhavsar, USA/Houston
Paul Hamm, USA/Waukesha, Wis.
Jonathan Horton, USA/Houston
The Tyson American Cup will be televised live on NBC Sports at 1 p.m. ET.
Some of the sport’s biggest names are former American Cup all-around gold medalists, including: men — Jason Gatson, Blaine Wilson, John Roethlisberger, Vitaly Scherbo (Belarus), Tim Daggett, Peter Vidmar, Mitsuo Tsukahara (Japan), Kurt Thomas and Bart Conner; and women — Carly Patterson, Elena Zamolodchikova (Russia), Kerri Strug, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Kim Zmeskal, Kristie Phillips, Mary Lou Retton, Julianne McNamara, Stella Zakarova (USSR) and Nadia Comaneci (Romania).
First held in 1976, past sites are: New York City (1976-80, 1982-84, 2004); Ft. Worth Texas (1981, 1996-98); Indianapolis, Ind. (1985); Fairfax, Va. (1986-90, 2003); Orlando, Fla. (1991-94, 2000-02); Seattle (1995); St. Petersburg, Fla. (1999); Uniondale, N.Y. (2005); Philadelphia (2006); and Jacksonville, Fla. (2007).
In addition to its sponsorship of the Tyson American Cup, Tyson is powering gymnasts