Of all the stars that are born at the Summer Olympics every four years, none shine brighter than the medal winners in gymnastics. But because of the cyclical nature of their sport, even the most celebrated of those athletes don’t become well known until the months leading up to the Games.
Though it’s still too early to determine who the media darlings of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be, fans in North Carolina will have a chance to see some of the top candidates this weekend when the American Cup competition is held at Greensboro Coliseum.
The main event, an all-around competition featuring some of the top men’s and women’s gymnasts in the world, is scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Two other events showcasing rising American stars — the Nastia Liukin Cup for women and the Elite Cup for junior elite men — will be held on Friday and Sunday.
Ticket packages for the three days of competition are available, with single-session tickets starting at $59 for the American Cup, at the coliseum box office or through ticketmaster.com.
“The American Cup is a major World Cup event and the majority of the countries are sending gymnasts who are considered as potential team members for next year’s Olympics,” said Leslie King, vice president of communications for USA Gymnastics. “The strong field includes a mixture of seasoned veterans and rising stars, all shooting to win the all-around titles.”
Among the brightest of those rising stars is 2018 junior all-around champion Leanne Wong. The 15-year-old from Overland Park, Kan., will be making her debut on the senior circuit — where she will be joined on Team USA by another talented teenager, 2018 world team gold medalist Grace McCallum of Isanti, Minn.
Among the top names on the men’s side are two-time world bronze medalist Sam Mikulak of Colorado Springs, Col., and defending American Cup champion Yul Moldauer of Arvada, Col.
Gymnasts from China, Japan, Ukraine, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain and China are also expected to compete in both the men’s and women’s events.
Invitations to compete in the American Cup, which became a FIG all-around World Cup event in 2011, are based on team results from the 2018 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
“The strong international field includes two-time Olympian and world silver-medalist Ellie Black of Canada; 2017 European Championships all-around bronze medalist James Hall of Great Britain; 2018 world all-around silver medalist Mai Murakami of Japan; and five-time world gold medalist Kenzo Shirai of Japan,” King said. “The men’s and women’s roster also includes 2016 Olympians Christian Baumann of Switzerland, Bart Deurloo of the Netherlands, and Petro Pakhniuk of the Ukraine, two-time Olympian Kim Bui of Germany and 2014 Youth Olympic Games two-time silver medalist Ma Yue of China.”
The American Cup is an all-around competition, which means the men compete on all six apparatus (floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar) while the women compete on four (floor exercise, vault, uneven bars and balance beam). The male and female gymnasts with the highest total score at the conclusion of the event win the titles.
This is the second time the American Cup and Nastia Liukin Cup have been held at Greensboro Coliseum, with the first coming in 2014. The Gate City has become a popular venue for top gymnastics events in recent years, also serving as host for the 2015 and 2018 USA Gymnastics Championships.
“The Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Greensboro Area Convention and Visitors Bureau have been and continue to be great partners,” King said. “The local gymnastics community is also very supportive, and the local hospitality is always great. Greensboro is gymnastics central this week.
“We hope the Greensboro community will come out to watch and cheer on the athletes. There is something for everyone — from the country’s rising stars to some of the world’s best who are contenders to represent their country at the Olympic Games.”