ARACAJU, Brazil, March 30, 2014 – Alec Yoder of Indianapolis, Ind./InterActive Academy, won three gold medals at the 2014 Junior Pan American Gymnastics Championships at the Constancio Vieira Sports Gym in Aracaju, Brazil. In addition, the USA garnered two silver and three bronze medals, as well as qualified for a berth to the Youth Olympic Games, pending final verification of all results by the International Gymnastics Federation. Including the all-around and team medals, the USA’s total tally is 11 (five gold, three silver, three bronze).
Yoder earned the top spot on the pommel horse, still rings, and parallel bars. Matthew Wenske of Houston/Cypress Academy of Gymnastics, claimed the still rings silver medal and the bronze medals for both the floor exercise and vault. Davis Grooms of Katy, Texas/Champions Gymnastics, picked up the silver for the horizontal bar and the bronze for the pommel horse. Marty Strech of Fountain Valley, Calif./Azarian U.S. Gymnastics Training Center, who qualified for six individual event finals, did not compete due to a sore back.
Yoder won the pommel horse title with his 13.550. Canada’s Justin Karstadt was second at 13.225, finishing just ahead of Grooms at 13.175.
The USA’s one-two finish in rings had a close margin. Yoder earned a 13.250 to clinch the title, just ahead of Wenske at 13.225. Brazil’s Gabriel Farias was third at 13.150.
Yoder garnered his third individual event gold on the parallel bars, scoring a 14.050 to edge out Colombia’s Dilan Jimenez at 14.000. The bronze went to Puerto Rico’s Andres Perez at 13.525. Grooms earned a 13.050 for fifth.
Grooms notched a 13.250 to take the horizontal bar silver medal. Guatemala’s Victor Espinoza was first at 13.275, and Farias was third at 13.125. Yoder finished in eighth place at 12.375.
In the floor final, Wenske missed the silver medal by 0.25. His 13.800 earned the bronze medal, behind Canada’s Rene Cournoyer, who was first with 14.125, and Brazil’s Lucas Cardoso, who was third with 13.825.
Wenske also took the vault bronze with a 13.688. Brazil’s Luis Porto was first at 13.788, and Cournoyer was second with a 13.713.
Earlier in the competition, the USA won the team title, and Strech and Yoder went one-two in the all-around.
The Junior Pan Am Championships is the Americas qualifier to the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. Eight men and nine women will represent the Americas in artistic gymnastics at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games Aug. 16-28 in Nanjing, China. Men must be 16-17 years old (born in 1997-98), and women must be 15 years old (born in 1999). Berths will be determined based on all-around rankings at the event, with a maximum of one per country. These qualifications are for the country not a specific athlete, and each country has its own selection procedures for naming its Youth Olympic Games participant.
If the USA qualifies for the Youth Olympic Games, eligible gymnasts must compete in both the Winter Cup Challenge (was held in February) and the 2014 U.S. Junior Olympic Championships, May 7-11 in Long Beach, Calif. In addition to performances at the two events, the Youth Olympic Games Selection Committee will also consider a number of factors, including the D (difficulty/start value) and E (execution) scores, and past domestic and international experience. The complete selection procedure is available here.