INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Aug. 10, 2007 — With the 2008 Olympic Games just one year away, the 2007 Visa Championships, Aug. 15-18 in San Jose, Calif., is definitely the place to see the USA’s gymnastics stars, all of whom are vying for coveted U.S. titles and a berth on the 2007 World Championships Team. The artistic gymnastics field boasts three Olympians and five world champions among the country’s best.  The Visa Championships also showcases the nation’s best in rhythmic and acrobatic gymnastics.


“At the Visa Championships, you’re going to see a real convergence of young up-and-comers and the more-established women’s athletes. They’re going to give them a run for their money, and we think that’s going to make for an exciting competition,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “On the men’s side, we’ve got a great group of guys. They’re young with incredible potential. Anything can happen with this very deep field of athletes.”


Five world champions are among the 10 world medalists scheduled to compete in artistic gymnastics: women — 2005 world uneven bars and balance beam champion Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas, 2005 world all-around gold-medalist Chellsie Memmel of West Allis, Wis., and 2005 world floor exercise champion Alicia Sacramone of Winchester, Mass.; and men — 2003 world all-around and floor exercise champion Paul Hamm of Waukesha, Wis., and 2001 world parallel bars champion Sean Townsend of Houston.  The other world medalists are: women — 2006 world all-around, floor exercise and team silver-medalist Jana Bieger of Coconut Creek, Fla., and 2006 world team silver-medalist Natasha Kelley of Katy, Texas; and men — 2006 world pommel horse bronze-medalist Alexander Artemev of Morrison, Colo., 2001 and 2003 world team silver-medalist Raj Bhavsar of Houston, and 2003 world team silver-medalist Morgan Hamm of Waukesha, Wis.


The three Olympians are: 2004 Olympic all-around champion and team silver-medalist Paul Hamm, 2004 Olympic team silver-medalist Morgan Hamm, and 2000 Olympian Townsend. Memmel and Bhavsar were alternates to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team.


“I’m excited for the Visa Championships because it takes place only a week before the World Championships,” said Martha Karolyi, women’s national team coordinator. “It’ll be very interesting to see the competition between the two generations of gymnasts: the so-called veterans, even though they are still extremely young, already have several world medals; and an extremely strong, young generation is breaking into the field. The competition between these girls will be strong and I actually look forward to selecting this (World Championships) team.”


“We’re definitely going forward with a positive attitude and we’re looking forward to the Visa Championships and what this new group will bring to the table,” said Ron Brant, senior men’s national team coordinator. “It’s going to be a good time for the U.S. men to show what they’re capable of doing.”


The Visa Championships also feature 14 medalists fresh from their success at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The United States claimed 16 medals in artistic gymnastics (six gold, seven silver and three bronze) and five in rhythmic gymnastics (two gold and three silver).