JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 3, 2007 – Shawn Johnson of West Des Moines, Iowa, and defending champion Jonathan Horton of Houston won the all-around titles at the 2007 Tyson American Cup in front of a crowd of 4,834 at the Jacksonville (Fla.) Veterans Memorial Arena. Johnson was crowned champion in her first senior competition, while Horton became the first male gymnast to win back-to-back Tyson American Cup titles since the USA’s Blaine Wilson won three straight from 1997-99.
“This was an experience I’ll never forget,” said Johnson, the 2006 U.S. junior all-around champion. “I loved hearing the crowd and I love the pressure because it makes me want to do better.”
“I was more relaxed today and I tried to stay calm,” Horton said. “I knew that if I was on, I could win. This win is different from last year because I knew I had the ability to win.”
The U.S. women went one-two in the competition. Johnson finished with a score of 62.050, followed by 2006 team world silver-medalist Natasha Kelley of Katy, Texas, in second with a of 61.450. Mexico’s Elsa Garcia was third at 60.200.
Horton won with a 92.750 and Takuya Nakase of Japan placed second with a score of 92.150. Russia’s Maxim Devyatovsky was third, followed by 2006 pommel horse world bronze-medalist Alexander Artemev of Morrison, Colo., who finished fourth.
The U.S. Women’s Team began the competition with two strong vaults from Johnson and Kelley. Johnson earned the highest vault score of the day with a 15.325 and Kelley posted a 14.950, placing her third after the first rotation.
Johnson’s 15.750 on bars kept her in the lead with a score of 31.075. With strong execution on vault and uneven bars, Garcia was second after two events with a score of 30.300. Kelley’s 14.975 put her third with a two-rotation score of 29.925.
The balance beam caused problems for more than half of the women. Kelley turned in the top performance on the beam, earning the highest women’s score of both days of competition with a 16.250. Johnson earned a 15.450 on her routine that had a difficulty of 6.800. Kelley’s score moved her into second place, just .350 points behind Johnson.
On floor, Johnson scored a 15.525 on a routine that included a double twisting double back as her first pass. Kelley earned a 15.275 on floor.
“I really wanted to go out and hit my floor routine,” Johnson said of her final event. “Hopefully next time I’ll come out, fix some things and be even better.”
The top scores of the day for the women were all earned by the United States: Kelley on beam with a 16.250; and Johnson on vault, uneven bars and floor with scores of 15.325, 15.750 and 15.525, respectively.
Horton got a great start on his first event, pommel horse. After earning a 15.550 on rings, Horton jumped from third to lead the men’s field after three events. His 15.900 was the highest on floor exercise for the men.
A powerful, 16.200 vault from Devyatovsky moved him into the all-around lead at 61.800. Horton was just 0.150 points behind with 61.650. Artemev held on to his fourth-place all-around standing after earning a score of 15.550.
The last gymnast to perform on parallel bars, Horton scored a 15.750 to build a .150-point lead over Devyatovsky heading into high bar, the last event of the competition. Horton’s high-flying horizontal bar routine earned him a 15.350 to clinch his second straight Tyson American Cup title.
The best men’s performers of the day on each apparatus were: Horton on floor and parallel bars with a 15.900 and a 15.750, respectively; Artemev on pommel horse with a 15.400; Nakase on rings with a 15.750, Devyatovsky on vault with a 16.200; and Germany’s Fabian Hambuechen with a 15.800 on high bar.