INDIANAPOLIS – Fresh off their victories at the 2003 Pan American Games, U.S. Rhythmic gymnasts Mary Sanders and Olga Karmansky, and teammate Lisa Wang, have a full slate of competitions ahead before the 2003 Rhythmic World Championships, Sept. 24-28 in Budapest, Hungary.

“Getting into competition mode by performing at a few select, high-caliber international meets is the best way to prepare for the World Championships,” said Rhythmic Program Sr. Director Jan Exner. “Mary, Olga and Lisa have each done very well so far this season and we look forward to each of them making significant strides at these World Championships and the Olympics in 2004.”

Sanders, who celebrated her 18th birthday on Aug. 26, will compete in the elite Vitry Cup, Sept. 5-7 in Zaragoza, Spain. A day later, Karmansky, 17, of Brooklyn, N.Y. and Wang, 14, of Buffalo Grove, Ill., take on a deep international field at the International Tournament of Sofia Grand Prix, Sept. 6-7 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Sanders and Karmansky hope to carry some momentum into the World Championships after finishing first and second, respectively, in the all-around at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Sanders also swept the event finals of hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon, while Karmansky added a silver in ball to bring the U.S. total at the Games to five gold and two silver.

Wang, who turns 15 on Sept. 24, recently finished 16th in the Baku World Cup event, Aug. 8-10 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Karmansky and Wang finished second and third, respectively, at the U.S. Championships and were named to the Rhythmic World Team along with Sanders following a World Team Selection Camp at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center on Aug. 3.

Following their respective meets this weekend, the three athletes will meet in Sofia, Bulgaria for a training camp prior to the World Championships. The 2003 Worlds will award group, individual event and all-around medals. The Championships also serve as the qualifier for the 24 individuals and 10 groups (6 athletes) selected to the 2004 Olympic Games, and begin exactly 325 days from the start of Olympic competition.

Sanders will be representing the United States for the first time at the World Championships. Sanders is a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, and as recently as 2002 won the Canadian National Championships. Sanders, the two-time U.S. National Champion, recently declared that she will compete solely for the United States as of 2003. Sanders is carrying on the gymnastics legacy of her father, Fred, the 1963 NCAA Champion in Trampoline, who passed away 10 years ago.

Karmansky, who was born in the Ukraine, is following in the footsteps of her mother, Helen, who was also a competitive rhythmic gymnast. She finished first in the all-around at the 2001 Senior Pan American Championships, and has finished second in the U.S. Championships since 2001.