INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., April 25, 2008 – Defending U.S. all-around champion David Durante of Garwood, N.J./Team Chevron, is one of 45 men scheduled to compete in the senior men’s division at the 2008 Visa Championships, May 22-24 at Reliant Park in Houston. The strong field also includes 2004 all-around Olympic champion Paul Hamm of Waukesha, Wis., and all members of the 2007 World Championships Team. The Visa Championships is the men’s qualifying event for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Gymnastics, June 19-22 in Philadelphia, Pa. The U.S. champions and the 2008-09 U.S. Men’s National Team will also be determined in Houston.
The seven members of the 2007 World Championships Team that finished fourth are: Guillermo Alvarez of Denver/Team Chevron; Alexander Artemev of Lakewood, Colo./Team Chevron; Sean Golden, Camden of N.J./Team Chevron; Jonathan Horton of Houston/Team Chevron; Sho Nakamori of Albany, Calif./Stanford University; Kevin Tan of Fremont, Calif./Team Chevron; and Durante. At the 2007 World Championships, Horton placed fourth in the all-around, and Alvarez and Tan finished fourth in the floor exercise and still rings, respectively.
2004 Olympic team silver-medalists Paul and Morgan Hamm of Waukesha, Wis., and Blaine Wilson of Columbus, Ohio, are also slated to compete at the Visa Championships. At the 2004 Olympic Games, Paul Hamm became the first U.S. man to win the all-around Olympic crown. Both Hamms were also members of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team, and Wilson is a three-time Olympian (1996, 2000 and 2004). Since returning to competitive gymnastics at the 2007 Visa Championships, Paul Hamm won the all-around at the 2008 Winter Cup Challenge, the 2008 Tyson American Cup and the 2008 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships presented by Gillette Venus.
In addition to the seven world team members, Paul Hamm and Wilson, the members of the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team in the field are: Raj Bhavsar of Houston/Team Chevron; Joseph Hagerty of Rio Rancho, N.M./Team Chevron; David Sender of Arlington Heights, Ill./Stanford University; Justin Spring of Burke, Va./Team Chevron; Yewki Tomita of Tucson, Ariz./Team Chevron; and Sean Townsend of Houston/Team Chevron.
Athletes qualified to the Visa Championships several ways: a member of the current senior national team; the top 14 athletes from the U.S. Men’s Qualifier based on the approved points system; 12 athletes from the NCAA National Championships; and by approved petition.
Four athletes successfully petitioned to the Men’s Program Committee to compete in the 2008 Visa Championships: Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons of Philadelphia, Pa./University of Oklahoma; Geoffrey Corrigan, Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Olympic Training Center; Jake Lee, Saratoga Springs, Utah/Minnesota Gymnastics; and Morgan Hamm.
Seventeen states are represented in the men’s competition, with Texas having the largest representation at 12.
Bhavsar, Horton and Townsend are three of 12 Texas natives expected to compete: Chris Brooks, Houston, Texas/University of Oklahoma; Tim Gentry, Plano, Texas/Stanford University; David Henderson, Crosby, Texas/USOTC; Jamie Henderson, Crosby, Texas/University of Oklahoma – Gattaca; Steve Legendre, Flower Mound, Texas/University of Oklahoma; Tyler Mizoguchi, Houston, Texas/Houston Gymnastics Academy; Greg Stine, Houston, Texas/U.S. Air Force Academy; Clay Strother, Jasper, Texas/Team Chevron; and Todd Thornton, Houston, Texas/Team Chevron.
The complete field is listed below. The junior men’s field will be finalized following the 2008 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships, May 6-11, in Battle Creek, Mich.
In addition to men’s artistic gymnastics, the 2008 Visa Championships in Houston is also the national championships for rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling.
Single-session ticket prices go on sale tomorrow, April 26, and range from $20-85 for men’s gymnastics, with those for rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline selling for $15 and $20. Tickets may be purchased charge by phone at 713-629-3700; online at www.ticketmaster.com; at all Ticketmaster outlets; at the Reliant Stadium South Box Office; or through participating area gymnastics clubs. Visa is the only card accepted for the 2008 Visa Championships.
The schedule for men’s artistic gymnastics is: Thursday, May 22—senior men’s first day of competition at 7 p.m.; and May 24—junior men’s all-around and individual event finals at 12:30 p.m., and the final day of the senior men’s competition at 6 p.m. On May 23, Reliant Arena will host the U.S. Classic, a women’s gymnastics event.
The schedule for rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline is: Thursday, May 22—junior rhythmic all-around prelims and individual event finals at 10 a.m., and senior rhythmic all-around prelims and individual event finals at 2:30 p.m.; Friday, May 23—junior trampoline and tumbling prelims at 10 a.m., and senior trampoline and tumbling prelims at 2:30 p.m.; and Saturday, May 24—junior rhythmic all-around and trampoline and tumbling finals at 10 a.m., and senior rhythmic all-around and trampoline and tumbling finals at 2:30 p.m.
In 2007, Durante joined an impressive list of gymnasts who have earned the coveted title of U.S. all-around champion. The roster of former all-around champions is a veritable who’s who in gymnastics, including Paul Hamm, Wilson, John Roethlisberger, Mitch Gaylord, Peter Vidmar and Bart Conner.
The Visa Championships traces its history back to 1897 for the men.
About Reliant Park
Reliant Park is managed and operated by SMG. Reliant Park is the premier convention, tradeshow, entertainment and sports complex located in Houston – the cultural center and urban hub of Texas. Four major facilities – Reliant Center, Reliant Stadium, Reliant Arena and Reliant Astrodome – encompass 350 acres. Having previously hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII, the 2002 and 2005 Big 12 Conference Football Championships, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Regionals in 2008 and 2010, the Final Four in 2011 and now the 2008 Visa Championships, Reliant Park is establishing itself as a long-term home for major national and international sporting events.
About Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
Houston is a cultural melting pot—home to a vibrant arts scene, thriving ethnic neighborhoods and NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Houston is one of a handful of American cities to house professional theater companies for each of the major arts disciplines. Sports fans can rally behind Houston’s professional teams in nearly every major sport. Houston is also home to the world’s largest concentration of medical professionals, world’s largest rodeo and nationally acclaimed restaurants and shopping. With 56,405 acres of total park space, Houston rates first among the nation’s 10 most populous cities in total acreage of park land. For more information on Houston, log on to www.visithoustontexas.com or call 1-800-4HOUSTON.
About USA Gymnastics
Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics