‘Countdown to Rio’ begins in Indy with start of P&G Gymnastics Championships on Aug. 13


INDIANAPOLIS, August 12, 2015 – With the start of the 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships on Thursday, the “Countdown to Rio” begins in earnest for the USA’s top male and female gymnasts when they begin their quest for this year’s national titles and national team berths. Competition gets underway on Aug. 13 with the junior women at 1 p.m. and the senior women at 7 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are less than a year away, but fans and spectators alike can get into the Rio spirit by visiting the Brazilian beach party on Georgia Street and other special activities on the Fieldhouse’s concourse that also come to life on Thursday.

Led by two-time defending U.S. and World all-around champion Simone Biles of Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre, the senior women’s field includes eight women who have won World Championships gold medals. 2012 Olympic gold-medalists Gabrielle Douglas of Virginia Beach, Va./Buckeye Gymnastics, Aly Raisman of Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics, and Kyla Ross of Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max, are also in the field.

For the men, Sam Mikulak of Newport Coast, Calif./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center), is seeking his third consecutive U.S. all-around title when the men take the floor on Aug. 14. Mikulak is one of nine men competing who have combined for a total of three Olympic and nine World medals. 2014 Youth Olympic all-around bronze-medalist Alec Yoder of Zionsville, Ind./InterActive Academy, Mitchell Brown of Fortville, Ind./DeVeau’s, and Anton Stephenson of Fishers, Ind./University of Nebraska, are the three local male gymnasts expected to compete.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, legendary gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, Indy’s Olympic gymnastics medalists Jaycie Phelps (1996), Samantha Peszek (2008) and Bridget Sloan (2008), Olympic champions Carly Patterson and Shannon Miller, St.Vincent Sports Performance Executive Director Ralph Reiff, and USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny will “open” the four-day P&G Championships on Thursday, Aug. 13, next to the Georgia Street beach at 11 a.m., prior to the first afternoon of junior women’s competition. Phelps, Peszek and Sloan will be recognized during the senior women’s session’s pre-competition festivities, which also feature the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.

For the Countdown to Rio beach party, the east block of Georgia Street will become home to a 1,600-square-foot beach, where a sand sculptor from the Indiana Ice Studio will transform five tons of sand into gymnastics-themed sand art, beginning Thursday, Aug. 13. Well-known gymnastics celebrities, including 1996 Olympic gold medalist Shannon Miller, 2004 Olympic all-around champion Carly Patterson, Peszek and Sloan, will be on hand to sign autographs on Georgia Street and at Bankers Life Fieldhouse throughout the four days of competition, where the Rio 3-D sculpture will make fun photo memories.

Women’s gymnastics
Eight gymnasts collectively have won 21 World and Olympic medals since 2010, including athletes who helped Team USA win the World team titles in 2011 and 2014 and the team gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games.

  • Alyssa Baumann, Plano, Texas/WOGA: 2014 World Championships – team gold
  • Simone Biles, Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre: 2014 World Championships – team, all-around, balance beam, and floor exercise gold and vault silver; 2013 World Championships – all-around and floor exercise gold, vault silver, and balance beam bronze
  • Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va./Buckeye Gymnastics: 2012 Olympic Games – team and all-around gold; 2011 World Championships – team gold;
  • Madison Kocian, Plano, Texas/WOGA: 2014 World Championships – team gold
  • Ashton Locklear, Hamlet, N.C./Everest Gymnastics: 2014 World Championships – team gold
  • Aly Raisman, Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics: 2012 Olympic Games – team and floor exercise gold, and balance beam bronze; 2011 World Championships – team gold, and floor exercise bronze; 2010 World Championships – team silver
  • Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max: 2014 World Championships – team gold, and all-around bronze; 2013 World Championships – all-around, uneven bars and balance beam silver; 2012 Olympic Games – team gold
  • MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz./Desert Lights: 2014 World Championships – team gold, and vault bronze

The five-members of the women’s team that won the team gold at the recent Pan American Games in Toronto, Ont., Canada, are also expected to compete: Madison Desch of Lenexa, Kan./GAGE; Rachel Gowey of Urbandale, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics; Amelia Hundley of Fairfield, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics; Emily Schild of Huntersville, N.C./Everest Gymnastics; and Megan Skaggs of Marietta, Ga./Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta. Gowey won the uneven bars title. Desch went on to win the all-around silver medal, and Skaggs was the silver medalist for the balance beam. Hundley won two individual event medals: the silver for the floor exercise and the bronze for the uneven bars.

In addition, 2013 junior U.S. all-around champion Bailie Key of Montgomery, Texas/Texas Dreams, is expected to make her senior debut at the P&G Championships. Maggie Nichols of Little Canada, Minn./Twin City Twisters, who finished third at the recent Secret U.S. Classic, has also registered for the event.

The junior women’s field includes MG Elite’s Lauren Hernandez and Jazmyn Foberg, both of Morganville, N.J. Foberg is the reigning U.S. junior champion, while Hernandez claimed the top spot in the junior competition at the Secret U.S. Classic.

Men’s gymnastics
The men’s field includes nine men who have combined for a total of three Olympic, nine World and 36 U.S. titles are listed below.

  • Chris Brooks, Houston/Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center): 2011 World team bronze medalist; 2010 U.S. horizontal bar champion.
  • Jake Dalton, Sparks, Nev./Team Hilton (University of Oklahoma): 2014 World team and vault bronze medalist; 2013 World floor exercise silver medalist; 2011 World team bronze medalist; three-time U.S. floor (2011-12, 2014) and vault (2009, 2011-12) champion; 2012 Olympian.
  • Jonathan Horton, Houston/Team Hilton (Cypress Gymnastics): 2012 Olympian; 2012 U.S. still rings champion; 2011 World team bronze medalist; 2010 World all-around bronze medalist; 2008 Olympic high bar silver and team bronze medalist; 2009-10 U.S. all-around champion; 2009 high bar champion; 2006 U.S. floor exercise champion.
  • Danell Leyva, Miami/Team Hilton (Universal Gymnastics): 2014 World team bronze and parallel bars silver medalist; 2013 World Championships – parallel bars champion; 2012 Olympic all-around bronze medalist; 2011 World team bronze medalist; 2011 all-around U.S. champion; four-time U.S. parallel bars (2010-12, 2014) and three-time horizontal bar (2009, 2011-12) champion.
  • Steven Legendre, Port Jefferson, N.Y./Team Hilton (University of Oklahoma): 2015 Pan Am Games team champion; 2013 World vault silver medalist; 2011 World team bronze medalist; two-time U.S. floor exercise champion (2011, 2013); 2010 U.S. vault champion.
  • Sam Mikulak, Newport Coast, Calif./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center): 2013-14 U.S. all-around champion (2013-14); 2015 Pan American Games all-around and team champion and floor exercise and parallel bars bronze medalist; 2014 World team bronze medalist; 2014 U.S. pommel horse champion; 2013 parallel bars and horizontal bar champion; 2012 Olympian.
  • Alex Naddour, Gilbert, Ariz./Team Hilton (USA Youth Fitness Center): 2011 and 2014 World team bronze medalist; 2011-13 U.S. pommel horse champion.
  • Donnell Whittenburg, Baltimore, Md./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center): 2015 Pan Am Games team champion, and vault, still rings and floor exercise silver medalist; 2014 World team bronze medalist; 2014 U.S. vault champion.
  • Brandon Wynn, Voorhees, N.J./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center): 2013 World still rings bronze medalist; four-time U.S. still rings champion (2010-11, 2013-14).

At the recent Pan American Games in Toronto, Ont., the U.S. men’s team of Marvin Kimble of Milwaukee, Wis./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center), Paul Ruggeri III of Manlius, N.Y./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center), Legendre, Mikulak and Whittenburg became the first U.S. men’s team to win the Pan Am Games team gold in 20 years. Mikulak went on to win the all-around gold and the floor exercise and parallel bars bronze medals. Kimble tied for the pommel horse gold. Whittenburg captured three silver medals (vault, still rings and floor exercise), and Ruggeri claimed the horizontal bar bronze.

Yoder will be competing in the senior division, with Brown and Stephenson in the junior elite 15-16 and 17-18 divisions, respectively.

Fan activities
Lots of fun fan activities are planned for Georgia Street and the Bankers Life Fieldhouse concourse. Miller, Patterson, Peszek and Sloan are among the well-known gymnasts who will sign autographs on Georgia Street and the Bankers Life Fieldhouse concourse throughout the four days. Organizers estimate that approximately 300 individuals will have the opportunity for an autograph during the allotted time. If there is inclement weather, the Georgia Street activities will be cancelled. For a schedule of when and where athletes are signing autographs, the list of participating food trucks, weather updates, and other information on the P&G Championships and fan activities, go to PGChamps.com.

Georgia Street and Outdoor Activities

  • Bring your workout gear and participate in a special edition of “Workout Wednesday” led by Olympians Peszek and Sloan in the west block of Georgia Street. Wednesday, Aug. 12, 12-12:45 p.m.

  • Kick off the first day of competition with the Circle City’s Taste of the Championships on the west block. Food trucks will offer health-conscious menu items that have been approved by St.Vincent Sports Performance and discounted items for those with P&G Gymnastics Championships tickets or credentials. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 15, the food trucks move to the east block from 3:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Official Countdown to Rio beach party in the east block includes a scavenger hunt and activities for kids, such as balance beam and carnival masks; an interactive live art project that will be unveiled during Sunday’s competition; special gymnastics-themed sand sculpture on the Georgia Street beach; Brazilian music; and the 3-D letter sculpture Rio, a signature art piece. Also local gymnastics clubs will give demonstrations – the Gymnastics Company on Thursday, Dana Mannix Gymnastics and The Flip Zone on Friday, and Fusion Gymnastics and Geist Sports Academy on Saturday. Thursday, Aug. 13, and Friday, August 14, 4:30-6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 15, 3:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Happy Hour Thursday in the center block of Georgia Street, with an Olympic gymnast appearance. Thursday, 4:30 p.m.

  • On Thursday, 1996 Olympic gold medalist Shannon Miller will sign copies of her book, “It’s Not About Perfect,” in the CNO booth on Georgia Street’s east block. Thursday, Aug. 13, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Special performance by American Idol Season 12 finalist Angie Miller, outside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Saturday, Aug. 15, 6:30 p.m.

  • Samba lessons, Georgia Street east block. Saturday, Aug. 15, 5:50-6:20 p.m.

  • Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, performance, Georgia Street east block. Saturday, Aug. 15, 5:10-5:40 p.m.

  • DJ Kyle Long entertainment, Georgia Street east block. Saturday, Aug. 15, 3:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Following Saturday night’s competition, Brazilian music spun by DJ Kyle Long and light display adjacent to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Aug. 15.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse activities

NOTE: Doors to Bankers Life Fieldhouse open 60 minutes prior to ticketed start time.

  • 40 Empowerment Through Performance banners created by members of gymnastics clubs and other youth organizations from central Indiana will be displayed throughout the championships at the Indiana Convention Center and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

  • AT&T will offer Road to Rio 3D photo opportunities on a virtual beach.

  • Spectators can enjoy makeovers at the P&G Beauty and Grooming booth, including CoverGirl manicures and makeup application from professional artists, and Gillette hot towel shaves. Learn about CoverGirl, Pantene, Secret, Gillette and Venus, as well as receive samples to experience the products at home.

  • Kids can have fun and gain knowledge about the importance of fitness through the interactive Kellogg’s Fitness and Nutrition Zone, which features physical activities in building balance, strength, flexibility and cardiovascular exercise, all of which are fundamental to gymnastics. USA Gymnastics athletes will sign autographs for kids who participate in the zone’s activities before each senior session. Guests may also receive free samples of Kellogg’s cereal products.

  • Think you are ready for 2016? Here’s your opportunity to test your skills at the Under Armour Performance Center. Fans of all ages can demonstrate their gymnastics abilities in three events. You will get to take home a photo of you showcasing your talent to share with your friends. Here’s your chance to show us your WILL.

  • Two main concourse concession stands will feature Circle City’s Taste of the Championships healthy food options that meet guidelines provided by St.Vincent Sports Performance. Menu includes fruits, vegetables and healthy salads.

  • Thursday night, the first of two women’s senior sessions, has been designated as Back Home Again in Indiana because Indy’s Phelps, Peszek and Sloan will be honored and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir will perform.

  • On Friday night (Aug. 14), the first of two competition days for senior men, the 2015 USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame class will be recognized. The class includes acrobatic gymnasts Kristin Allen and Michael Rodrigues of Livermore, Calif.; female gymnasts Mohini Bhardwaj of Los Angeles and Terin Humphrey of Kansas City; rhythmic gymnast Jessica Howard of Jacksonville, Fla.; trampoline and tumbling specialist Jennifer Sans of Burnsville, Minn.; men’s gymnastics coach Mark Williams of Norman, Okla.; and Doug Hills of Portland, Ore., and the late Dave Moskovitz, lifetime achievement. Darren Renna of Boston will receive the 2015 USA Gymnastics Robert Miller Spirit of the Flame Award.

  • Members of Team Hilton will sign autographs on the concourse Saturday, Aug. 15, at 6:30 p.m. One autograph per person will be offered to the first 300 fans. Members of Team Hilton include: Donothan Bailey, Lake Forest, Calif./University of California–Berkeley; Chris Brooks, Houston/U.S. Olympic Training Center; Jake Dalton, Reno, Nev./University of Oklahoma; Jonathan Horton, Houston /Cypress Gymnastics; Marvin Kimble, Milwaukee, Wis./Swiss Turners Gymnastics Academy; Steven Legendre, Norman, Okla./University of Oklahoma; Danell Leyva, Miami, Fla./Universal Gymnastics; Sam Mikulak, Newport Coast, Calif., Eddie Penev, Penfield, N.Y., Paul Ruggeri III, Manlius, N.Y., Donnell Whittenburg, Baltimore, Md., Brandon Wynn, Voorhees, N.J., all with the U.S. Olympic Training Center; and Alexander Naddour, Gilbert, Ariz./USA Youth Fitness Center.

  • Vanessa Atler of Bakersfield, Calif., who tied for the U.S. all-around title in 1997 and won two 1998 Goodwill Games gold medals, will sign her children’s book, “Let the River Flow,” prior to the junior sessions on Thursday and Friday. Based on Atler’s childhood as a young gymnast, the story of River is about overcoming setbacks on and off the playing field, as well as striving not only to do one’s best but also to enjoy the experience of participating in sports. Illustrated by Mentol, the hardbound, 24-page book is geared for youngsters ages 5-10 and available at the merchandise booth.

  • Fans can purchase everything gymnastics, including event-specific tees, Under Armour and GK leotards, Shannon Miller’s “It’s Not About Perfect,” Atler’s “Let The River Flow,” and Vera Bradley bags, at merchandise booths on the concourse.

The Indiana Sports Corporation, Pacers Sports & Entertainment, the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana are the local organizers of the P&G Gymnastics Championships. St.Vincent Sports Performance is the official medical and performance nutrition provider of USA Gymnastics and the P&G Gymnastics Championships. Premier level sponsors are Deloitte, Vera Bradley, Kroger and OneAmerica Financial Partners. Local event partners are Bohlsen Group; Washington National Insurance Company, a subsidiary of CNO Financial Group; Hendricks Regional Health; Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield; Crowe Horwath; and Faegre Baker Daniels. The headquarters for USA Gymnastics has been located in Indianapolis since 1983.

In addition to competition, nearly 3,000 people are expected for the USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show, an annual education event for the entire gymnastics community held in conjunction with the championships. The National Congress will be housed at the Indianapolis Convention Center and will feature presentations, demonstrations and educational seminars.

P&G Championships information

Scheduled for Aug. 13-16, the four-day P&G Gymnastics Championships serves as USA Gymnastics’ national championships and will determine members of the men’s and women’s national team and part of the World Team selection.

Single-session tickets are still available and range from $10-$105, with prices varying depending on session and seating area, along with several other ticket packages: women’s gymnastics day 1 includes both the junior and senior sessions on Aug. 13, $75-$125 per seat; men’s gymnastics package that includes every men’s junior and senior session, Aug. 14 and 16, $75-$125; women’s gymnastics final day includes both the junior and senior sessions on Aug. 15, $90-$140; senior men’s and women’s gymnastics final day sessions, Aug. 15-16, $85-$135; and all-session ticket package includes every competitive session, with prices running from $150-$495, and a limited number of Platinum VIP all-session tickets, located in the first five rows, are still available and include an autographed poster and a meet-and-greet with an Olympian.

Tickets may be purchased at Ticketmaster through www.ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster charge by phone 1-800-745-3000 or at participating Walmart locations in Central Indiana and Bankers Life Fieldhouse Box Office. Prices vary depending on seat location, and listed ticket prices do not include applicable fees.

The competition schedule, which is subject to change, is outlined below:

  • Thursday, Aug. 13 – women’s gymnastics, juniors at 1 p.m.; seniors at 7 p.m.;
  • Friday, Aug. 14 – men’s gymnastics, juniors at 1 p.m.; seniors at 7 p.m.;
  • Saturday, Aug. 15 – women’s gymnastics, juniors at 1 p.m.; seniors at 7:30 p.m.;
  • Sunday, Aug. 16 – men’s gymnastics, seniors at 1:30 p.m.; juniors at 7:30 p.m.

For more information on the 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships, go to pgchamps.com.

The roster of former U.S. all-around champions is a veritable who’s who of gymnastics, including: women – Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Carly Patterson, Courtney Kupets, Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes, Kim Zmeskal and Mary Lou Retton; and men – Paul Hamm, Blaine Wilson, John Roethlisberger, Mitch Gaylord, Peter Vidmar and Bart Conner. The U.S. Gymnastics Championships traces its history back to 1897 for the men and 1931 for the women. Previously known as the Visa Championships, this is the fourth time the prestigious event has been held in Indianapolis (1986, 1998, 2005, 2015).

Background information

  • St.Vincent Sports Performance. A worldwide destination for elite athlete training, the St.Vincent Sports Performance staff has been supporting world-class athletes since 1987. The first and largest hospital- based program of its kind in the United States, St.Vincent Sports Performance employs 70 nationally certified athletic trainers, 7 physicians, 12 certified strength and conditioning specialists, two licensed sports psychologists and a registered sports dietitian. Together they have trained athletes at every level from Olympians to the NFL and NBA, to Motorsports and NCAA athletes. Learn more at definingsportsperformance.com.

  • Indiana Sports Corp. Indiana Sports Corp’s mission is to create positive impact by hosting world-class sporting events that enhance vibrancy in the community, build civic pride, drive economic impact and media exposure, and encourage opportunities for youth. A not-for-profit organization, Indiana Sports Corp was founded in 1979 as the nation’s first sports commission. Our recent and upcoming schedule of events includes NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Fours, Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, Big Ten Football Championship Games through 2021, Big Ten Basketball Tournaments, 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships, 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Diving, and much more. For more information, visit www.IndianaSportsCorp.org.