INDIANAPOLIS and MCLEAN, Va., January 26, 2011 – USA Gymnastics and Hilton Worldwide announced today that Hilton Worldwide has joined the USA Gymnastics family of corporate partners as the official hotel partner. The multi-year partnership will focus on support for top athletes and more than 100,000 members of the organization.
Hilton Worldwide has developed partnership initiatives that will support the USA's best gymnasts. Hilton Worldwide will help upgrade the amenities provided at the USA Gymnastics National Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch, a U.S. Olympic Training Site. Located in Huntsville, Texas, the USA Gymnastics National Training Center has housing and training facilities for women's, rhythmic and acrobatic gymnastics, and trampoline and tumbling.
In addition, USA Gymnastics and Hilton Worldwide have created Team Hilton HHonors, a program that provides financial support to male gymnasts to help offset their training and living expenses while they pursue their Olympic dreams.
Jonathan Horton of Houston, the 2010 World all-around, bronze medalist and 2008 Olympic horizontal bar silver medalist, and Joey Hagerty of Albuquerque, N.M., a member of the 2008 Olympic bronze medal team, are among the gymnasts who will represent Team Hilton HHonors at the 2011 Winter Cup Challenge, Feb. 3-5, in Las Vegas, Nev.
"The type of support Hilton is providing is crucial for our top gymnasts to achieve success," said Steve Penny, President of USA Gymnastics. "Whether it is added comfort after a long day of training at the Ranch or increasing the support for our athletes, Hilton is making a valuable contribution to our Olympic preparation. Combined with the benefits we plan to deliver to our members, this is a comprehensive partnership."
"We are proud to become the official hotel partner of USA Gymnastics and extend our commitment to the U.S. Olympic Movement and Olympic hopefuls," said Jeff Diskin, Senior Vice President, Global Customer Marketing, Hilton Worldwide. "We are delighted to provide direct funding to support some of our country's best male gymnasts in their pursuit of Olympic gold."
The 10 members of Team Hilton HHonors heading into Winter Cup are:
- Alexy Bilozertchev of Hilliard, Ohio/U.S. Olympic Training Center
- Chris Brooks of Houston/University of Oklahoma
- Andrew Elkind of Cherry Hill, N.J./U.S. Olympic Training Center
- Wes Haagensen of Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Olympic Training Center
- Joey Hagerty of Albuquerque, N.M./U.S. Olympic Training Center
- 2004 Olympic all-around champion Paul Hamm of Waukesha, Wis./Swiss Turners
- RJ Heflin of Harrisburg, Pa./Houston Gymnastics Academy
- Jonathan Horton of Houston/Cypress Academy
- Danell Leyva of Miami, Fla./Universal Gymnastics
- Tim McNeill of Falls Church, Va./University of California, Berkeley
Short bios on each of the gymnasts are included below.
As members of Team Hilton HHonors, these gymnasts will wear uniforms bearing the Team Hilton HHonors designation at domestic competitions, as well as make appearances on behalf of Hilton Worldwide. The Winter Cup is a re-ranking event for men's gymnastics, and performances in Las Vegas could impact the make-up of Team Hilton HHonors.
"Making an Olympic team takes hours of intense training and preparation," said Horton, the reigning U.S. all-around champion. "Hilton's support reduces the stress of some of our financial concerns and allows the team to focus on being our best. We are proud to represent Team Hilton HHonors."
Hilton Worldwide will also offer USA Gymnastics athletes, professional members, families and fans a discount on hotel stays when booking at any of Hilton Worldwide's participating brands, including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.
The agreement also includes funds for activating various promotional initiatives and sweepstakes that will be developed in the coming months, USA Gymnastics member programs, preferred room rates, and exclusive USA Gymnastics experiences and benefits for Team Hilton HHonors members.
Hilton Worldwide is a long-standing partner of the U.S. Olympic Committee as a proud sponsor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams. The company's support includes refurbishment of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and providing discounted hotel rates to U.S. Olympians and Paralympians, the USOC and National Governing Bodies through the Hilton Worldwide program.
About Hilton Worldwide
Hilton Worldwide is the leading global hospitality company, spanning the lodging sector from luxurious full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites and mid-priced hotels. For 92 years, Hilton Worldwide has been offering business and leisure travelers the finest in accommodations, service, amenities and value. The company is dedicated to continuing its tradition of providing exceptional guest experiences across its global brands. Its brands are comprised of more than 3,600 hotels and 600,000 rooms in 82 countries and include Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. The company also manages the world-class guest reward program Hilton HHonors®. For more information about the company, visit www.hiltonworldwide.com.
Brief biographies on the Team Hilton HHonors Athletes
Alexy Bilozertchev, Hilliard, Ohio/U.S. Olympic Training Center; March 27, 1990. Bilozertchev, son of Soviet Olympic all-around bronze-medalist and world all-around, gold-medalist Dmitri Bilozertchev, finished 12th in the all-around, tied for eighth in the horizontal bar, and 10th in the floor exercise at the 2010 Visa Championships. He placed fourth in the floor exercise at the 2010 Winter Cup Challenge. Bilozertchev was 13th in all-around at the 2009 Visa Championships, where he also finished in the top 15 on pommel horse (13), parallel bars (12), horizontal bar (15) and floor exercise (15). Bilozertchev, who attended Ohio State University, is a member of the USOTC Resident Athlete Program and coached by Vitaly Marinitch.
Chris Brooks, Houston/University of Oklahoma; Dec. 19, 1986. In 2010, Brooks won the all-around and horizontal bar at Winter Cup Challenge, finished third at the 2010 American Cup, and qualified for the high bar finals at his first World Championships. He won the U.S. horizontal bar title at the 2010 Visa Championships, as well as placed second on parallel bars and fourth in the all-around. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Brooks was a member of the bronze-medal team at the 2010 Japan Cup. He is still training at the University of Oklahoma in Norman with Rustam Sharipov.
Andrew Elkind, Cherry Hill, N.J./U.S. Olympic Training Center; Sept. 25, 1985. A member of the USOTC Resident Athlete Program, Elkind received his Masters in Accounting from the University of Denver and his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, where he earned NCAA All-American honors on parallel bars. He finished fifth in the horizontal bar and 10th in the all-around at the 2010 Visa Championships. Elkind posted a 16th place all-around finish at the 2010 Winter Cup Challenge, where he also tied for eighth for the parallel bars. At the 2009 Visa Championships, he finished sixth on parallel bars. Elkind is coached by Vitaly Marinitch.
Wes Haagensen, Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Olympic Training Center; Dec. 21, 1985. Haagensen helped the U.S. men win the team title at the 2011 Pan American Championships, where he also was third on the horizontal bar and tied for fourth in the all-around and still rings. In 2009, Haagensen was a member of his first World Championships Team after finishing third in the all-around at the 2009 Visa Championships. In 2008, Haagensen earned a business management degree at the University of Illinois, where he competed on the gymnastics team. A member of the USOTC Resident Athlete program, he is coached by Vitaly Marinitch.
Joey Hagerty, Albuquerque, N.M./U.S. Olympic Training Center; April 19, 1982. Hagerty was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team that earned the team bronze medal. In 2010, he tied for sixth in the floor exercise and seventh on the parallel bars at the Visa Championships, and finished sixth on the parallel bars and eighth on the horizontal bar at the Toyota Cup. At the 2009 Visa Championships, he tied for second on the parallel bars. Also in 2009, he won the all-around title at the Winter Cup and was third at the American Cup and the Champions Trophy in Germany. He claimed his first-career U.S. title at the 2008 Visa Championships by winning the horizontal bar, where he was also third in the all-around. He was a member of the bronze-medal team at the 2007 Pan American Games. A member of the USOTC Resident Athlete program, he is coached by Vitaly Marinitch.
Paul Hamm, Waukesha, Wis./Swiss Turners; Sept. 24, 1982. Hamm, the first U.S. man to win the Olympic all-around title, is returning to competitive gymnastics for the second time. After taking time off after he won the all-around, gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games, Hamm returned to competitive gymnastics at the 2007 Visa Championships and won the floor exercise, his 10th career national title. In 2008, he won the all-around title at the Winter Cup Challenge, American Cup and Pacific Rim Championships. On the first day of competition at the Visa Championships, Hamm broke the fourth metacarpal in his right hand. He underwent surgery and successfully petitioned to the 2008 Olympic Team, but withdrew from the team prior to the Games because he hadn't fully recovered. He then retired from competition and worked in the financial industry. At the 2004 Olympics, Hamm also helped the U.S. men win the team silver medal and finished second on the horizontal bar. Just one year earlier, Hamm made history by winning the United States' first-ever, men's world all-around title at the 2003 World Championships, where he also tied for first on floor and won a team silver medal. He claimed a world bronze medal on floor exercise in 2002. Hamm was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team and the 2001 U.S. World Team that won an unprecedented team silver medal. Hamm won three national all-around crowns and six national individual event titles between 2002 and 2004. Hamm earned his degree from Ohio State University after the 2004 Olympics. He is currently coached by Andre Kan.
RJ Heflin, Harrisburg, Pa./Houston Gymnastics Academy; July 30, 1985. Heflin is currently training in Houston. After missing a few years due to injuries, Heflin was seventh on vault and tied for eighth on floor at the 2010 Visa Championships. In December 2010, he competed in the Toyota Cup. While competing for the University of California, Berkeley, Heflin was second on the floor exercise at the 2004 NCAA Championships. As a junior, he won two U.S. floor exercise titles and earned a still rings bronze medal. His coach is Nori Iwai.
Jonathan Horton, Houston, Texas/Cypress Academy; Dec. 31, 1985. Since winning the horizontal bar silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, Horton has earned the 2010 World all-around bronze medal; won back-to-back U.S. all-around titles (2009-2010); got married; and returned to Houston to train with Tom Meadows at Cypress Academy. He also finished second in the all-around at the 2010 Tyson American Cup and third on both still rings and horizontal bar at the World Cup in Paris. A three-time team captain at the University of Oklahoma, Horton claimed 18 All-American honors, 16 NCAA individual titles, the 2006 NCAA all-around title, three NCAA team titles (2005-06, 2008), and the Nissen-Emery Award. He is married to Haley DeProspero, a former Oklahoma gymnast who is currently in medical school.
Danell Leyva, Miami, Fla./Universal Gymnastics; Oct. 30, 1991. Leyva, who won the U.S. parallel bars title and was second in the all-around at the 2010 Visa Championships, was fifth on the horizontal bar at the 2010 World Championships. Earlier in the year at the Pacific Rim Championships, he was a member of the gold-medal team and won titles on both the parallel bars and high bar, along with a bronze medal on still rings. Coached by his stepfather, Yin Alvarez, the 19-year-old won the parallel bars at the 2010 Winter Cup, along with second on the high bar and fourth in the all-around. At the 2009 Pan American Championships, an individual event competition only, Leyva won the gold medal on high bar, the silver medal on parallel bars, and placed sixth on floor. He comes from a competitive family – his mother, Maria Gonzalez, was a competitive gymnast in Cuba, and his cousin is a two-time world champion free diver.
Tim McNeill, Falls Church, Va./University of California, Berkeley; May 5, 1986. McNeill finished seventh in the all-around at his first World Championships (2009), where he also was fifth on the pommel horse. McNeill followed up on his World Championships breakout performance with a parallel bars bronze medal at the 2010 World Cup in Moscow, as well as a tie for fourth on pommel horse. At the 2009 Visa Championships, he was second in the all-around, in addition to first on the parallel bars and third on the pommel horse. McNeill did not compete in the 2010 Visa Championships, but was there in his capacity as head coach for the gymnastics team at the University of California, Berkeley, his alma mater. He successfully petitioned on the senior national team, selected after the 2010 Visa Championships. McNeill is in the unique position of being a member of the national team, as well as coaching two national team members as part of the Golden Bear squad. When competing for UC Berkeley, McNeill won the pommel horse and parallel bars at both the 2007 and 2008 NCAA Championships. He graduated UC Berkeley with a degree in psychology. He is coached by Michael Ash.