USA Sending Mix Of Olympic Hopefuls To Spring Events
posted on 02/26/2004

INDIANAPOLIS - USA Gymnastics' spring line-up for the major international meets includes a handful of Team USA veterans plus some rising stars ready to make their mark on the international circuit and make their case for an Olympic Team berth.


Men

The World Cup in Cottbus, Germany, March 4-8, will see Sean Townsend, Steve McCain and Raj Bhavsar. Townsend (Dallas/Gattaca-HGA) finished second at the 2004 Winter Cup, with McCain (Houston/Gattaca-USOTC) taking fourth. Bhavsar (Houston/Chevron-Ohio State) was a member of the 2003 World Championships silver-medal team.

A day later in Calgary, Canada, Alexander Artemev, Brett McClure, David Durante and Todd Thornton will take on Canada, Japan, Spain and Brazil in the annual Jurassic Classic, March 9-13. McClure (Mill Creek, Wash./Chevron-USOTC) was a member of the 2003 Worlds Team while Artemev (Lakewood, Colo./Chevron-5280) served as team alternate. Durante (Garwood, N.J./Gattaca-Palo Alto) finished second in the all-around at the 2003 Pan Am Games, while Thornton (Houston/Chevron-HGA) won the all-around at the 2002 Jurassic Classic.

The second World Cup event, March 11-15 in Lyon, France, will enjoy the company of Paul Hamm, Guard Young and Dan Gill. Hamm (Waukesha, Wis./Chevron-Ohio State) is the reigning world all-around champion and was joined on the 2003 World Team by alternate Young (Oklahoma City/Chevron-Oklahoma). Gill (Fairfax, Va./Stanford) finished sixth all-around at the 2003 Pan Am Games.

Blaine Wilson and Jason Gatson will preview the Olympic stage during Athens' one and only Olympic Test Event, March 15-22. Gatson (Upland, Calif./Chevron-USOTC) and Wilson (Columbus, Ohio/Chevron-Ohio State) finished 2-3 in the 2003 U.S. Championships before helping the 2003 Worlds Team to team silver.

Townsend and Durante will close out March with an appearance in the Ukraine Invitational, March 24-29 in Kiev.

Women

The women's National Team will send eight young stars to the spring's major international competitions. Melanie Sinclair (Orlando/Orlando Metro) and Sarah Shire (Holts Summit/Great American) will travel to the Cottbus World Cup on March 4-8. Sinclair finished sixth all-around at the 2002 U.S. Championships (Jr.), while Shire finished 15th all-around and fourth on vault at the 2003 U.S. Championships.

Sam Sheehan (Villa Hills, Ky./Cincinnati) and Courtney McCool (Kansas City/Great American) will test the waters in Athens at the Olympic Test Event, March 15-22. McCool helped the 2003 Pan Am Team to team gold and won vault silver. Sheehan won bronze on floor at the 2002 World Championships, but missed the '03 Nationals and Worlds due to injury.

Nicole Harris (Oceanside, N.Y./Parkettes), who took third on bars and first on beam at the 2003 Pacific Challenge, and Katie Heenan (South Riding, Va./Capital), who finished first on bars at the 2003 U.S. Championships and won bronze on bars and with the team at the 2001 Worlds, will compete in the Ukraine Invitational, March 24-29 in Kiev.

Alicia Sacramone (Winchester, Mass./Brestyan's) and Allyse Ishino (Santa Ana, Calif./Charter Oaks) wrap up the busy 30-day stretch for the Team are on their way to Rio for a World Cup event, April 3-4. Ishino finished fourth all-around at the 2003 Pan American Games. Sacramone took third on floor and fourth on vault at the 2003 U.S. Championships.

Rhythmic
S
pring is the busiest season for Rhythmic gymnastics, with competitions non-stop through until May. U.S. champion Mary Sanders, who qualified the U.S. for the 2004 Olympic Games with her ninth-place performance in the all-around at the 2003 World Championships, leads the U.S. rhythmic program. She is joined by 2003 U.S. all-around runner-up Olga Karmansky, bronze medalist Lisa Wang, 4th-place finisher Brennan Stacker, 5th-place finisher Julia Itkina, Junior champion Rachel Marmer, and Jr. bronze medalist Julie Zetlin.

2/28 Moscow -Lisa Wang
3/12 Kiev, Ukraine - Olga Karmansky
3/19 Calais, France - Brennan Stacker, Julie Zetlin
3/22 Olympic Test Event, Athens - Mary Sanders
3/27 Thiais, France -Mary Sanders, Rachel Marmer
4/3 Riga, Latvia - Olga Karmansky, Julia Itkina
4/12 Pacific Alliance Championships - Mary Sanders, Olga Karmansky, Lisa Wang, Brenann Stacker, Rachel Marmer, Julie Zetlin
4/24 Baku World Cup - Mary Sanders
4/29 Sofia, Bulgaria - Mary Sanders, Lisa Wang
5/4 Corbeil, France - Mary Sanders, Lisa Wang

Line-ups for any additional competitions will be announced as they are selected.

Next up on the domestic agenda is the women's American Classic, March 5-6 in Ontario, Calif. - the first of two qualifiers for the U.S. Championships. The 2004 Pacific Alliance Championships, April 15-17 in Honolulu will feature the Pacific region's top athletes in Jr. and Sr. artistic and rhythmic disciplines. The next domestic men's meet is the U.S. Championships Qualifier, April 24 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.