LONG BEACH, Calif., May 10, 2011 – Nearly 450 of the USA’s best Level 10 gymnasts will converge in Long Beach, Calif, to compete in the 2011 Women’s U.S. Junior Olympic National Championships May 13-14 at the Long Beach Sports Arena. Level 10 gymnasts compete in the highest level in the Junior Olympic program, which is just under the elite level. The Junior Olympic National Invitational Tournament (NIT) is held in conjunction with the Women’s National Junior Olympic Championships on May 15.

USA Gymnastics has eight regions, and the top seven gymnasts from each region’s Regional Championships advance to nationals. These gymnasts are vying to become Junior Olympic national champions in the all-around, as well as in all four events: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. The winning Regions will also be determined at the conclusion of the competition. The top four all-around athletes in each age division also qualify to the 2011 Junior Olympic National Team and are invited to attend a National Training Camp, scheduled for Oct. 22-25, at the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch, a U.S. Olympic Training Site, in Huntsville, Texas..

The Junior Olympic National Championships is the culmination event for the competitive season. The competition features eight age divisions (Junior A, Junior B, Junior C, Junior D, Senior A, Senior B, Senior C and Senior D), which are determined by age and birth date.

The competition schedule is: May 13 – 11:30 a.m., Junior and Senior A, and 5 p.m., Junior and Senior B; and May 14 – 11:30 a.m., Junior and Senior C, and 5 p.m., Junior and Senior D. Champions are determined for each session.

The U.S. Junior Olympic National Championships is one of the national championships of USA Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body in the United States. Many Junior Olympic champions have gone on to make the U.S. National Team and represent the United States in international competition and/or to compete in collegiate gymnastics. Many of the country’s top gymnasts are former participants in the Junior Olympic program, including 2009 world vault champion Kayla Williams, 2008 Olympic balance beam gold-medalist Shawn Johnson, 2008 Olympic team silver-medalist Samantha Peszek, 2004 Olympic team silver-medalist Courtney McCool and 2006 world all-around silver-medalist Jana Bieger, to name a few.

The Junior Olympic NIT was developed to allow an additional 192 athletes an opportunity to compete at the national level and features gymnasts who ranked eighth and ninth in the all-around in each of the eight age divisions at the Level 10 Regional Championships (provided they achieved a minimum all-around score of 34.00), plus any Regional individual event champions who did not qualify to the Junior Olympic Nationals or the Junior Olympic NIT in the all-around qualify for that event. Competition is on May 15 at the Long Beach Sports Arena.

American Gymnastics Academy is the local gymnastics club hosting the 2011 Junior Olympic National Championships.