Australian, Canadian gymnasts come to 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships f
posted on 03/28/2006
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., March 29, 2006 - Australia, Canada and Malaysia achieved great success in gymnastics at the recent Commonwealth Games and are hoping to continue that trend with performances at the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships, April 13-15, in Honolulu, Hawaii, which features competition in artistic and rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline. Canada won the team gold medal in both men's artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, with Australia taking top team honors in women's artistic gymnastics. Although trampoline was not part of the Commonwealth Games, this discipline's international field features Russia's Irina Karavaeva, the 2005 world and 2000 Olympic individual champion, and Alexander Rusakov, the 2005 individual world champion.

In addition to Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Russia, the other countries fielding athletes are China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines and the United States. The field has been announced except for the USA's rhythmic gymnastics team, which will be released March 31, and the women's artistic gymnastics team, which will be announced April 7.

In women's artistic gymnastics, Australia won more than just the team title at the Commonwealth Games. Australia's Hollie Dykes won the floor exercise and was second on the balance beam. Monette Russo, who earned Australia's first world all-around medal in 2005, was third in both the all-around and the uneven bars. Canada was third in the Commonwealth Games team competition, with Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs winning the balance beam and uneven bars and placing second in the all-around. At the 2006 Tyson American Cup, Canadian Aisha Gerber was third in the all-around, behind Americans Nastia Liukin and Shayla Worley. Japan's Miki Uemura is her country's reigning national champion. Although Mexico's Elsa Garcia is now competing in the senior competition, she won the 2004 Pacific Alliance junior vault title.

For men's gymnastics, Canada's Kyle Shewfelt, the 2004 Olympic floor exercise champion, was a member of Canada's gold medal team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Canada's team claimed a number of medals at the Commonwealth Games: Nathan Gafuik - second in the all-around and vault; Grant Golding, with first in the parallel bars, second in the still rings and third on the pommel horse; Shewfelt, who won the vault and was third on floor exercise; and Adam Wong, who won the floor exercise. Australia was second in the Commonwealth Games team competition. Australia's Joshua Jefferis won the all-around and still ring titles at the Commonwealth Games, as well as second on the parallel bars. Teammates Prashanth Sellathurai and Samuel Offord were second on the pommel horse and third on vault, respectively. Malaysia's Shu Wai Ng was second in the floor exercise at the Commonwealth Games.

The men's field also has a number of returning medalists from the 2004 Pacific Alliance Championships. China's Lu Bo won the still rings and parallel bars and was second in the all-around. Chinese Taipei's Lin Hsiang-Wei won the pommel horse, and Malaysia's Wei Siang Ooi was second in vault. Golding was third in both the floor exercise and still rings.

Canada, Malaysia and Australia went one-two-three in rhythmic gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games. Canada's Yana Tsikaridze was second in ribbon and third in the all-around and rope, with Australia's Kimberly Mason taking second in ball and third in clubs. Malaysia's Durratun Nashihin Rosli was second in the all-around and clubs, with teammate Wen Chean Lim placing third in ball and ribbon. Mexico's Cynthia Valdes won the ball, clubs and rope titles at the 2005 Pan Am Championships, where she also was second in ribbon.

In individual trampoline at the 2005 World Championships, China won the women's and men's team titles, followed by Russia and the USA for the women and Japan and Russia for the men. In addition to the two world champions, Russia's delegation also includes Natalia Chernova, who finished second behind Karavaeva, and German Khnychev, who was a member of the men's bronze-medal team. Canada's Karen Cockburn was second at the 2004 Olympic Games, improving on her bronze medal performance at the Games in 2000. Australia's Ji Wallace was the 2000 Olympic Games silver medalist and has recently returned to competition. Also, Japan's Yasuhiro Ueyama and Tetsuya Sotomura were second and third, respectively, at the 2005 World Championships.

Artistic and rhythmic gymnastics will have team, all-around and individual event competitions for both juniors and seniors. Individual trampoline will also have competition for both juniors and seniors.

Tickets are $15 and $30 for artistic gymnastics, with all-session packages for $45 or $75. For rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline, tickets are $15. Tickets may be purchased at the Neal Blaisdell Center Box Office, or by calling 877-750-4400 (charge-by-phone). Applicable service fees may apply. NBC Sports is broadcasting action from the Pacific Alliance Championships on April 16 at 4 p.m. ET.

The 2004 Pacific Alliance Championships was held in Honolulu. Paul Hamm and Allyse Ishino won the all-around titles. The U.S. Senior Men won seven medals, and the U.S. Senior Women claimed eight medals, including sweeping the gold medals for the team, all-around and the four individual event finals. China's Lu Bo won the title in the parallel bars and still rings, while Taipei's Lin Hsiang Wei won the pommel horse. In the team competition, Japan and China finished behind the USA for the men, while Australia and China finished second and third, respectively, behind the USA's women. The USA led the total medal count, followed by China and Canada. In 2001, Honolulu's Blaisdell Center hosted the Pontiac American Team Cup.

This year's Pacific Alliance Championships is locally presented by Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and OHANA Hotels & Resorts and sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Chevron and KHNL/Channel 8 News. A Tom Moffatt Production, Inc., is a promotional partner for the event.