INDIANAPOLIS, May 21, 2022 – In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, USA Gymnastics will host a live panel on diversity, equity and inclusion in gymnastics focusing on the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) experience on Tuesday, May 24 from 1-2 p.m. ET.
Athlete panelists Raj Bhavsar and Serena Lu and photographer John Cheng will discuss their experiences both within the gymnastics community and more broadly as Americans.
USA Gymnastics Chief Legal Officer Debbie Shon, a leader in the Asian-American cultural and legal communities, will moderate alongside USA Gymnastics’ Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Jill Geer.
Meet the panelists:
A U.S. Men’s National Team member from 2001-09, Bhavsar is an Olympic bronze medalist as part of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in Beijing, China. He also served as an alternate for the 2004 Olympic team and was an integral part of the silver-medal-winning 2001 and 2003 World Championships teams. As a college gymnast at Ohio State, Bhavsar was a 10-time All-American, captured two individual NCAA titles in addition to the 2001 team title, and was named the 2002 OSU Male Athlete of the Year. He also created two eponymous moves: one on parallel bars, one on still rings. The Houston native was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and holds a degree in business administration. He currently serves as the Junior High Performance Coordinator for USA Gymnastics’ Men’s Program.
The photographer behind the lens of some of the most memorable U.S. gymnastics photos the last 15 years, Cheng is a native of Taipei, Taiwan. Migrating to Texas in 1980 as a 13-year-old, he grew up working and even studying in the restaurant owned by his mother and stepfather. Cheng earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M and worked in the IT industry for companies including Dow, Enron and UBS. When his daughter started pursuing gymnastics, the “gym dad” became a gymnastics photographer. In 2009, he left IT to pursue his passion for photography – and gymnastics – full time. With his wife, Selma, as his partner, Cheng established Team Photo, which covers grassroots, regional and national events around the country. He also serves as USA Gymnastics’ primary National Team photographer, covering national and international competitions, including the Olympic Games.
One of the most recognizable American rhythmic gymnasts of the last decade, Lu was a member of the rhythmic gymnastics National Team from 2010-2018 and is a five-time all-around bronze medalist at the USA National Championships. She was a member of the 2014 and 2015 World Championships teams and competed at the 2017 University Games in Taipei as an undergraduate student at Princeton University. She completed her degree in 2020, graduating as a pre-law student with a major in Psychology and minors in Dance and Cognitive Science. She is now working with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and dancing with Movement Headquarters, a NYC-based contemporary ballet company. Lu currently serves as one of two elected members of USA Gymnastics’ Athletes’ Council representing the interests of U.S. rhythmic gymnasts and is also a representative for the sport of gymnastics on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s Athletes’ Advisory Council.
Moderator: Debbie Shon, USAG Chief Legal Officer
An international business executive, attorney and national leader in the Asian-American community, Shon has been with USAG since April 2021. Her resume includes serving as CEO and Chief Legal Officer of Ticketmaster China, Vice President for International Trade Law and Global Public Policy at U.S. Steel, and Assistant U.S. Trade Representative during the Clinton administration. The first woman to be a registered NBA agent, Shon is the recipient of the Wiley W. Manual Pro Bono Award from the California State Bar Board of Governors for her work in the community after the civil unrest in Los Angeles. She is also the recipient of the 2016 USC Asian American Leadership Award, 2019 Daniel Inouye Trailblazer Award and the 2019 Women’s Leadership Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). She currently serves on the Smithsonian National Board of Advisors and is Chair of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center Board of Advisors. Her uncle, the late Dr. Sammy Lee, was the first diver to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in platform diving (1948, 1952) and the first person of color to win the James E. Sullivan Award as the best American amateur athlete.