INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Feb. 16, 2009 – 2008 Olympic team silver-medalist Bridget Sloan of Pittsboro, Ind., 2008 Olympic team bronze-medalist Joseph Hagerty of Rio Rancho, N.M., 2008 U.S. all-around champion David Sender of Arlington Heights, Ill., and 2008 U.S. junior all-around champion Jordyn Wieber of DeWitt, Mich., recently spoke with members of the media about their preparations for the 2009 Tyson American Cup, scheduled for Feb. 21 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, and national team coordinators Martha Karolyi (women) and Ron Brant (men) also spoke with the media about the 2009 Tyson American Cup, which will feature a combination of some of the world’s top gymnasts and rising stars.
"The Tyson American Cup is always a big event for us, especially when you’re starting a new quadrennium," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "We’e excited to host this event in the Chicago area to directly support Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. It’s the primary reason we’re in Chicago. We have not been in Chicago in a long time with an event of this magnitude and we have received a lot of support from Chicago 2016, World Sport Chicago and the entire gymnastics community. We hear that the entire city is painted with hanging banners of gymnasts. They’ve done a fantastic job promoting this event. Ticket sales are really strong and we’re looking forward to a really outstanding competition."
Below are some excerpts from the media conference call.
Martha Karolyi, women’s national team coordinator
On the Tyson American Cup
" It’s a fantastic competition and in the past, the gymnasts who have won the event were winning Worlds or the Olympic Games in the next year or two. We realize how important this meet is. It’s very early in our season, but it’s a great tool for new girls on the international scene and (for everyone) to compete under the new requirements of the Code of Points." A NOTE: The Code of Points governs men’s and women’s gymnastics, outlining scoring and routine requirements, as well as skill valuations.
On Bridget and Jordyn
" It’s very important for Bridget to be there. She used to be the youngest team member on the Olympic Team and now she is considered one of the most experienced ones. It’s also a great opportunity to introduce Jordyn Wieber, who is an upcoming little star, and to see how the international community will respond to her."
On her goals for 2009
"My first goal was to go to the Tyson American Cup, which, as we all know, I’ve accomplished. My next goal is to do well at the Tyson American Cup. I would like to do the 2009 Worlds. Just really keep up my strength and my routines. Consistency is my main focus this year. Having Sam (Peszek) at my gym is great. I love having her here because it definitely keeps me motivated. Because she’s been to the Tyson American Cup, she told me all about it and how it’s a really nice competition and a lot of fun."
On if she’s made any changes in her routines
" I have made a few changes in my routines. I’m not going to tell you what they are; you’ll have to watch and see if you can tell! Marvin and I have talked about all of my routines in (relation to) the new Code. This will be one of the first meets with the new code, so we’re just going to see how it all plays out. Marvin and I have talked through everything that was possible for me to do with the new Code, so hopefully my changes will be enough to make the standard."
On receiving advice from older athletes
"When I go to the Ranch every month, I learn a lot from those girls. I really look up to them and watch them as they train. I learn a lot of things from them. I also have a training partner and we help each other a lot and give each other motivation. I learn a lot from those older girls and they’re great role models for me."
On who’s coming to watch her at the Tyson American Cup
"My whole family is coming: my mom, my dad and my three siblings. I’m really excited about that because they don’t get to see me compete for the U.S. very often."
Ron Brant, men’s national team coordinator
On Joseph and David
"I’m personally excited that Joey has stepped back into the competitive side a little quicker and is out there to continue on from the Olympic Games. It’s nice to have gymnasts come off the Olympics and continue to go forward. He had a great performance at Winter Cup and showed that he’s competitively ready and focused on the task at hand. And David, unfortunately, won the national championship and then had an injury that set him back a while. Watching him at Winter Cup, it’s obvious that he’s motivated and on track again to move forward and see how he can perform and help the U.S. Men’s Team. I think that both of them are going to bring some excitement to the event and we’re looking forward to both of them competing."
On his biggest focus leading up to the Tyson American Cup
"My biggest focus is being consistent with my routines. Most of my routines are the ones I did at the Olympics. I haven’t really focused on upping my start value yet. We’re planning on doing that for the Visa Championships. I just want to minimize my deductions and be consistent with my routines."
On how he feels after the Olympic Games
" I feel I’m ready to compete with the best. I think I’m mentally stronger now and am able to do that now. I still think of everything the way I always have, which is it’s just one more routine that I’ve done a thousand times. It doesn’t really matter where it’s at."
On his goals for Tyson American Cup
"The Tyson American Cup is always a great meet to compete in, especially for the Americans being on the home turf. For me in particular, since it’s back in Chicago, I’m going to have a lot of family and friends there and that should be a nice little cheering section. I’d like to at least put on a good show. I don’t want to set any challenges saying that I want to win considering Joey’s on the line, but it’s a great meet for Americans to go to. I’m excited. I want to put on a good performance and have fun at the competition."
On being coached by David Durante, alternate for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team
"He’s really been great. He’s a really great guy in general, but as a coach, he applies the same stuff that he did in his gymnastics to his coaching. He’s very meticulous, very focused on the details and he doesn’t let you get away with anything at all that’s less than perfect. It can be frustrating at times, but at the same time, he’s extremely motivating and it’s been a pleasure working with him."
On his thoughts about Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games
" I’m completely in support of having the Olympics in Chicago. It would be great, not just for Chicago but for America to have it back here again. I think it would be a really exciting event. I’d like to at least go to watch it if I’m not still competing at that time."