INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Aug. 4, 2008 – Representing 29 world medals and one Olympic medal, the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for gymnastics features the USA’s best men’s and women’s gymnasts and trampolinists in their quest for gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Coming into the Olympic Games, the USA’s prospects look promising for a very successful showing: the women are currently ranked first in the world and will go head-to-head with the Chinese for the team title; the men are solid medal contenders for a team medal; and the trampoline gymnasts are aiming for the event finals.
" We have fielded a talented and experienced team," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "The competition at these Olympic Games promises to be as dramatic as any in the history of the movement, and fans are going to witness incredible gymnastics for the next two weeks."
The U.S. Olympic Team for men’s gymnastics includes: Raj Bhavsar of Houston/Team Chevron; Joseph Hagerty of Rio Rancho, N.M./Team Chevron; Morgan Hamm of Waukesha, Wis./Team Chevron; Jonathan Horton of Houston/Team Chevron; Justin Spring of Burke, Va./Team Chevron; and Kevin Tan of Fremont, Calif./Team Chevron. The two replacement athletes are Alexander Artemev of Morrison, Colo./Team Chevron, and David Durante of Garwood, N.J./Team Chevron.
The members of the U.S. Olympic Team for women’s gymnastics are: Shawn Johnson of West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics; Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas/WOGA; Chellsie Memmel of West Allis, Wis./M&M Gymnastics; Samantha Peszek of Indianapolis, Ind./DeVeau’s; Alicia Sacramone of Winchester, Mass./Brestyan’s; and Bridget Sloan of Pittsboro, Ind./Sharp’s. The three replacement athletes are: Jana Bieger of Coconut Creek, Fla./Bieger International Gymnastics; Ivana Hong of Blue Springs, Mo./GAGE; and Corrie Lothrop of Gaithersburg, Md./Hill’s.
Erin Blanchard of Lafayette, La./U.S. Olympic Training Center, and Chris Estrada of Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Olympic Training Center, will represent the USA in trampoline at the 2008 Olympic Games. The two replacement athletes are Logan Dooley of Lake Forest, Calif./U.S. Olympic Training Center, and Alaina Hebert of Broussard, La./U.S. Olympic Training Center.
The U.S. women’s gold-medal performance at the 2007 World Championships capped off an impressive run that started at the 2005 World Championships. The U.S. women have won a total of 21 medals (eight gold, 11 silver and two bronze) at the last three World Championships (2005-07). In 2007, the women claimed just their second world team title in U.S. history and the first ever at a World Championships held outside the United States. It was the first time the USA has won both the team and all-around gold medals at the same World Championships. The USA is the only country that has won a women’s team medal at every Olympic Games and World Championships since 2001.
Five women on the U.S. Olympic Team have claimed a total of 26 world medals, including 13 gold, 11 silver and two bronze. Liukin leads the women’s team with nine world medals, four gold and five silver, which ties the mark of nine world medals held by Shannon Miller, who has earned more world and Olympic medals than any other U.S. gymnast (16 total). Sacramone has seven medals, followed by Memmel with six. Johnson has three world medals to her credit and Peszek has one.
At the 2007 World Championships, Johnson won the most gold medals (three) in the women’s competition: all-around, floor exercise and team. She is the fourth U.S. woman to win the world all-around title, joining Kim Zmeskal (1991), Shannon Miller (1993-94) and Memmel (2005). Liukin picked up the USA’s fourth gold medal at the 2007 Worlds when she won her second balance beam world title. She also claimed the silver medal on the uneven bars. Sacramone earned two individual medals at the 2007 World Championships, a silver in the floor exercise and a bronze in vault. Peszek also won a gold medal as a member of the world-champion team. Sloan was the replacement athlete on the 2007 World Championships Team.
Just one year earlier, Liukin, Memmel and Sacramone helped the U.S. women earn the team silver medal at the 2006 World Championships. Liukin and Sacramone added silver medals on uneven bars and vault, respectively.
In 2005, Memmel and Liukin went 1-2 in the all-around, separated by a mere .001 of a point. Among Memmel, Liukin and Sacramone, the trio claimed four world titles and a total of nine (of a possible 10) world medals in one of the most dominant performances at a World Championships. Liukin was the world champion for the balance beam and uneven bars in 2005. Sacramone claimed a gold medal and a bronze medal, respectively, on floor exercise and vault. Memmel earned silver medals on the uneven bars and balance beam.
At the 2003 World Championships, Memmel helped the U.S. women earn their first-ever team world gold medal, earning the highest all-around marks of any team member during team finals. She won a second world gold medal in 2003 by tying for first on uneven bars.
The U.S. men will be in the hunt for a team medal. At the 2007 World Championships, the U.S. men were just 1.25 points shy of winning the bronze medal. Hamm, a two-time Olympian (2000-04), is the U.S. Team’s sole former Olympian. He helped the USA win the team silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games, the U.S. men’s first team medal since they claimed the gold medal in 1984.
Horton finished fourth in the men’s all-around at the 2007 Worlds and became just the fifth U.S. man to finish in the top four at an Olympic Games or a World Championships. Tan was fourth on still rings in the individual event finals. Bhavsar was a member of the 2001 U.S. World Championships Team that earned an unprecedented team silver medal, and he and Hamm helped the United States defend that medal at the 2003 World Championships.
Five men on the U.S. Olympic Team have competed in a total of nine World Championships. Tan has competed in three World Championships, followed by Bhavsar and Horton, who have competed in two each, and Hamm and Spring, who have competed in one each. Hagerty is the only team member who has not competed in a World Championships.
The USA is heading to the Olympic Games in women’s trampoline for the third straight Olympiad and, for the first time, earned a berth in men’s trampoline. The USA qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games based on performances at the 2007 World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships in Quebec City, Que. Trampoline made its debut as an Olympic sport at the 2000 Olympic Games, and the U.S. women have not missed an Olympic Games yet.
Estrada has been a member of three World Championships Teams, and Blanchard gained valuable experience at World Cup competitions.
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, and acrobatic gymnastics.