LAUSANNE, Switzerland, March 22, 2012 – The 2010 World champions for men’s and women’s pairs and women’s group are expected to defend their titles at the 2012 World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships, April 16-18, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex’s HP Field House, located at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The field of 180 gymnasts includes athletes from 23 countries. The 2012 World Age Group Competition will be held April 20-22 in conjunction with the World Championships.

In addition to world titles, the gymnasts will also be vying for spots to the 2013 World Games, the multi-sport global competition for non-Olympic sports, in Cali, Colombia. The 2012 World Championships will include all acro disciplines: men’s, women’s and mixed pairs, as well as men’s and women’s groups.

In women’s pair, Kateryna Sytnikova and Anastasiya Melnychenko of Ukraine, the 2010 World champions, will attempt to defend their title against a strong crop of challengers, including Sviatlana Mikhnevich and Yana Yanusik of Belarus, who won this month’s Maia Acro World Cup in Portugal.

The reigning women’s group gold-medalists Aigul Shaikhutdinova, Ekaterina Stroynova and Ekaterina Loginova are also back for another round and have presented strong performances in recent competitions.

Great Britain’s Edward Upcott won the 2010 World men’s pair title with then partner Douglas Fordyce, and he hopes to repeat with his new partner, Adam Mcassey. China’s Tang Jian, Wang Lei, Zhou Yi and Wu Yeqiuyin enter the World Championships as the world’s top-ranked men’s group and will attempt to claim the top place on the podium.

The USA is entering a young, talented team that will compete in the women’s pair, women’s group and mixed pair events. The U.S. Team features:

  • Women’s pair – Beth Landeche, New Orleans, La., and Nicole Barrilleaux, Metairie, La., of Crescent City Gymnastics
  • Women’s group – Sienna Colbert, Riverside, Calif., Holli Morris, Beaumont, Calif., and Crystal Johnston, Riverside, Calif., of Empire Gymnastics
  • Mixed pair – Kelianne Stankus, Riverside, Calif., and Dylan Maurer, Colton, Calif., of Empire Gymnastics

To see the complete field for the World Championships, CLICK HERE.

The World Acrobatic Gymnastics Age Group Competition will showcase approximately 400 junior acrobats.

The USA’s World Age Group Team features the following athletes.

11-16 Women’s Pair

    Taylor Mayo, San Antonio, Texas/Acrobatic Gymnastics of San Antonio
    Katarina Partalas, San Antonio, Texas/Acrobatic Gymnastics of San Antonio

    Kathleen Davis, San Antonio, Texas/Acrobatic Gymnastics of San Antonio
    Maren Merwarth, San Antonio, Texas/Acrobatic Gymnastics of San Antonio

11-16 Women’s Group

    Rachel Zorn, Annapolis, Md./ 1st Class Gymnastics
    Holland Koller, Annapolis, Md./ 1st Class Gymnastics
    Sophia Handel, Annapolis, Md./ 1st Class Gymnastics

    Elissa Joseph, Brookeville, Md./Xtreme Acro
    Kendall Meyer, Silver Spring, Md./Xtreme Acro
    Cameron Jones, Potomac, Md./Xtreme Acro

12-19 Women’s Pair

    Mariah Cockshell, Lee’s Summit, Mo./Acro Explosion
    Kennedy Swanson, Blue Springs, Mo./Acro Explosion

    Lillian Robertson, San Antonio, Texas/Acrobatic Gymnastics of San Antonio
    Jessica Renteria, San Antonio, Texas/Acrobatic Gymnastics of San Antonio

12-19 Mixed Pair

    Kiley Boynton, Riverside, Calif./Realis Gymnastics
    Josh Miles, Temecula, Calif./Realis Gymnastics

12-19 Women’s Group

    Hannah Silverman, Clarksville, Md./Emilia’s Acrobatic Gymnastics Club
    Christina Antoniades, Eldersburg, Md./Emilia’s Acrobatic Gymnastics Club
    Emily Ruppert, Baltimore, Md./Emilia’s Acrobatic Gymnastics Club

    Daphne Kirschner, Rockville, Md./Xtreme Acro
    Jordan Jones, Potomac, MD./Xtreme Acro
    Mackenzie Meyer, Silver Spring, Md./Xtreme Acro

To see the entire field for the World Age Group Competition, CLICK HERE.

The competition schedule is:

    World Championships – qualification rounds on April 16-17, with the team medals awarded on the 17th, and finals on April 18
    World Age Group Competition – qualification rounds on April 20-21, and finals on April 22. The World Age Group Competition has two age categories, 11-16 and 12-19.

Local organizations assisting with the event include the Central Florida Sports Commission, Cirque du Soleil/La Nouba and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

This is the first time the World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships has been held outside of Europe since its inception in 1974. The World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships, since they came under the FIG umbrella in 1999, have been held in Ghent, Belgium (1999); Wroclaw, Poland (2000, 2010); Riesa, Germany (2002); Lievin, France (2004); Coimbra, Portugal (2006); and Glasgow, Scotland (2008).

Acrobatic gymnastics combines the beauty of dance with the strength and agility of acrobatics. Routines are choreographed to music and consist of dance, tumbling, and partner skills. At the elite level, each pair or group performs a balance, dynamic and combined routine. Pyramids and partner holds characterize the balance routine, while synchronized tumbling and intricate flight elements define the dynamic exercise. An acrobatic gymnastics pair consists of a base and a top. A women’s group is comprised of a base, middle and top partner, while a men’s group has a base, two middle partners and one top partner.

Background information

  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which hosts more than 350 events a year, is the leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports in the United States, accommodating 70 different sports and athletes from more than 70 countries. Designed to take youth sports to the next level, the 250-acre facility features the ESPN Innovation Lab, a real-world testing ground for the ESPN Emerging Technology Group to develop ground-breaking on-air products like Ball Track and ESPN Snap Zoom, as well as development of its new 3-D television channel. In addition, the complex features 56 high-definition cameras (42 robotic, 10 hand-held and four studio) and 40 high-definition video screens, including three jumbo screens, that can capture and display footage from any event taking place at the complex. The camera and video screens, as well as a 20-zone audio system, are controlled through the state-of-the-art HD and 3-D Broadcast Center that features eight edit bays and links to ESPN facilities in Bristol, Conn., New York and Los Angeles. For more information, visit for press releases, photos and videos. Follow us on Twitter at @DisneySports.

  • International Gymnastics Federation (FIG): The International Gymnastics Federation is the governing body for gymnastics worldwide. It is the oldest established international sports federation and has participated in the Olympic Games since their revival in 1896. The FIG governs seven disciplines: gymnastics for all, men’s artistic, women’s artistic, rhythmic, trampoline, aerobic and acrobatic. It counts 130 national affiliated federations and boasts a 25-person staff at its international seat in Lausanne, Switzerland, host city of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

  • USA Gymnastics. Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. Its mission is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport. Its disciplines include men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics and group gymnastics. For more information, log on to