INDIANAPOLIS – The world’s top athletes are lining up for the 2005 American Cup at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum at 2:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 26. The United States will kick off the new Olympic quadrennium in grand fashion behind the talented women’s squad of Mohini Bhardwaj, Chellsie Memmel, Alicia Sacramone and Nastia Liukin.
Several international Olympic standouts have already confirmed their participation. Heading the international women’s field will be Olympic all-around bronze medalist Zhang Nan and Olympian Cheng Fei of China , and Olympian Soraya Chaouch of France .
On the men’s international side, two-time Olympic medalist Jordan Jovtchev of Bulgaria will compete along with Olympians Pierre Yves Beny and Yann Cucherat of France , and Evgeni Sapronenko of Latvia .
“The American Cup is attracting the type of field we thought it would, with several Olympic athletes continuing their careers in 2005 plus a handful of up-and-coming athletes hoping to make a name for themselves on the World Cup circuit,” said USA Gymnastics President Bob Colarossi . “We’ve named a talented line-up that we believe can compete with the best athletes in the world, and look forward to an exciting event at Nassau Coliseum.”
Bhardwaj earned a team silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games with the U.S. women, and qualified for the floor exercise final as well. Memmel earned bars and team gold at the 2003 World Championships, and bars gold at the 2004 World Cup Final. Teammate Sacramone won vault gold at the 2004 World Cup Final. Liukin represents the up-and-comers in the sport, having won the last two U.S. Junior titles and five medals at the 2003 Pan American Games – the most of any single athlete.
The U.S. men’s roster will be named following the 2005 Winter Cup slated for Feb. 4-5 in Las Vegas . The women’s roster will be confirmed following a verification of readiness at the women’s team training camp prior to the American Cup.
Tickets for the American Cup on Feb. 26 range from $15-75 and are on sale now through www.ticketmaster.com, by calling (631) 888-9000 or (212) 307-7171, by visiting the Nassau Coliseum box office, or through local gymnastics clubs listed at www.usa-gymnastics.org. Spectators holding a ticket for the Feb. 26 American Cup will be admitted to the event prelims on Feb. 25.
One of the world’s premier gymnastics events, the 2005 American Cup will assume the status of an International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) World Cup competition. The World Cup will consist of preliminaries on Feb. 25 with the American Cup to take place on Feb. 26 televised live by NBC Sports.
The new format, which features individual event finals only, allows athletes placing among the top eight on each apparatus to earn World Cup points toward qualification to the bi-annual World Cup Final. Also at stake in the 30 th American Cup is approximately $46,000 in prize money.
World Cup points are accumulated through participation in Olympic Games, World, Continental and National Championships, along with World Cup Category A and B events during a two-year cycle. Gymnasts carry over 70 percent of their World Cup points at the start of the next cycle. The American Cup is the second World Cup of the 2005-2007 cycle following the DTB Pokal in Stuttgart in late November. The 2006 World Cup Final will be hosted by Brazil .
FIG member nations may bring up to six male and four female athletes, though participation is limited to two athletes per country per apparatus.
From 1976 through 2004, the American Cup served as the most prestigious international all-around competition on the gymnastics calendar. The event launched the international careers of many world-class competitors, such as Bart Conner, Kurt Thomas, Mary Lou Retton, Peter Vidmar, Shannon Miller, Blaine Wilson, Kerri Strug and Carly Patterson.
USA Gymnastics enters the contest fresh off its historic success in 2004 in which the United States won nine Olympic medals to bring its total to 56 World, Olympic and Pan Am medals since 2000. Most recently, Alicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel captured gold in vault and uneven bars at the World Cup Final in Birmingham , England , Dec. 11-12.
The 2005 American Cup will be televised live on NBC Sports from 4-6 p.m. on Feb. 26.