The Road to Beijing for Olympic Gymnasts Begins in Houston

The USA Gymnastics VISA Championships serve as a qualifying event for the US Olympic Team trials. Coach Kevin Mazeika says there is a great deal ofpressure:

"Absolutely, it all starts here. The athletes will do the VISA Championships here inHouston. They'll be at competition Thursday and Saturday and out of that competitionwe'll select 14 athletes that move on to Philadelphia for their trials. It's weighted 40 percentof their selection process, and Philadelphia is weighted 60 percent. So basically, it sets thegroundwork, sets the table for who will make this Olympic team."

Competing in the event is a 2000 Olympian, 2001 world champion and HoustonianSean Townsend:

"It's basically four years gearing up to this moment. And there's four competitions that aregoing to make up the Olympic team, so they're going to choose the first 14 guys here inHouston and in Philly. They'll pick the six guys that are going to represent the USA in Beijing."

USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny is high on the team:

"This team could be the best in the world as far as I'm concerned. They have the talent andwe have the depth, and it's just all about putting it all together on the right day at the righttime. That's really what the Olympics comes down to. It's that one moment in time where you'vegot to hit. Our guys are as good as anybody."

The competition begins Thursday at Reliant Park.

reliant park

Pat Hernanadez, KUHF- Houston Public Radio News.
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