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USA Gymnastics sets Tyson American Cup roster

January 13, 2009 |  4:00 pm

Bridget Sloan, left, celebrates with Samantha Peszek after making the cut last July for the Beijing Games.

USA Gymnastics announced its field for the 2009 Tyson American Cup competition that will be held in Hoffman Estates, Ill., just outside Chicago, Feb. 21.

Headlining the women's competition will be 16-year-old Olympic silver medalist Bridget Sloan. U.S. coaches hope she will be the cornerstone for the national team for the next four years, as Alicia Sacramone was for the 2008 Olympic team.

The meet will give U.S. junior all-around champion Jordyn Wieber a national coming-out party. Wieber, 13, from DeWitt, Mich., is gaining a reputation by filling her routines with difficult tricks. Here's a recent USA Gymnastics interview with Wieber. And here's a YouTube video of a recent floor exercise performance by Wieber and another of Wieber on the balance beam.

Men's team bronze medalist Joey Hagerty and 2008 U.S. all-around champion David Sender also will compete at the meet. Sender had sprained an ankle during a warm up exercise at the Olympic trials. Even though he petitioned for a spot on the Olympic team, Sender's request was denied and the Stanford graduate said he might retire.

Frenchman Benoit Caranobe, who was the surprise Olympic all-around gold medalist, and Germany's Fabian Hambuechen, a popular gymnast who was favored to win not only an all-around medal but also the high bar gold medal, also will compete. Hambuechen settled for a bronze on the high bar and won no all-around medal. The 21-year-old has said he plans to make amends during the 2012 London Olympics.

Other 2008 Olympians in the Tyson American Cup field are: Great Britain’s Rebecca Downie, Japan’s Koko Tsurumi, Puerto Rico’s Luis Rivera, Romania’s Flavius Koczi, Russia’s Ksenia Afanasyeva and Yury Ryazanov, and Venezuela’s Jose Luis Fuentes and Jessica Lopez. Seven of the 2008 Olympians were all-around finalists in Beijing: (men) Caranobe, Hambuechen, Koczi, Rivera and Fuentes; (women) Downie and Tsurumi.

Two additional U.S. women will join Sloan and Wieber following a February training camp. The U.S. women are sending both junior- and senior-level gymnasts, as are several other countries. As in the past, the U.S. athletes will demonstrate competition readiness prior to the event.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Bridget Sloan, left, celebrates with Samantha Peszek after making the cut last July for the Beijing Games.  Credit: David J. Phillip / Associated Press