Gymnastic Stars - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Gymnastic Stars

Jason Gatson (Artistic All-Around) -  Gatson scored a perfect 10.0 on floor at the 1999 Winter Cup Challenge and placed second all-around to Blaine Wilson. With his third-place finish at the 1997 John Hancock U.S. Gymnastics Championships, he became the youngest athlete ever to make a U.S. Men’s World Champion-ships Team at age 17.

Gatson made his debut at the senior level in the 1998 International Team Championships in Cincinnati , winning a team gold medal. He made a remarkable comeback from multiple knee injuries to win the 2003 Men’s National Championships Qualifier and finish second at the 2003 U.S. Championships.

He currently lives at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and is a member of the OTC Resident Training Program under coach Vitaly Marinitch. Gatson is active in the Make a Wish program in Colorado , and he enjoys swimming, basketball and drawing.

Morgan Hamm (Men’s Artistic)  Hamm helped anchor the 2003 World Championship Team that won the silver medal. He is a son of Sandy and Cecily, and has a twin brother, Paul, who is also a 2000 Olympian and member of the U.S. Senior National Team.

The brothers made history at Sydney when they became the first twins ever to participate in the same Olympic Games gymnastics competition. Older sister Betsy recently finished her collegiate gymnastics career at Iowa State University . Their father was an All-American diver.

Hamm enjoys playing cards and tennis.

Paul Hamm (Men’s Artistic All-Around) -  Personal: Have you ever watched a men’s gymnastics event and thought you were seeing double? You may have been watching America ’s double threat – the Hamm twins. The first twin born by a matter of minutes, Paul shares everything with his brother including their sport of gymnastics.

While Paul was the first in the family to start the sport, hitting the gym just six months prior to his twin, he and his brother are shooting for gold in Athens. Fast-forward to 2003 where Paul became the first American to capture the all-around gold medal at the World Gymnastics Championships, winning the floor exercise and earning a silver team medal.

Off the mat, Paul enjoys playing tennis, chess and cards, noting his favorite game as Sheepshead, an old game that originated in Middle Europe in the late 1700s. A sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he is studying to become a physical therapist.

Chellsie Memmel (Women’s Artistic All-Around) - Memmel burst into the spotlight in 2003 at the Pan American Games where she won five medals including team and all-around gold. She was called into action as an alternate to the World Championships Team then cast into the lineup after injuries and illness to three team members. Memmel ended up playing a vital role in securing the team gold, earning the highest all-around marks of any team member during team finals.

She went on to tie with teammate Hollie Vise as the World Uneven Bars Co-Champion. For her outstanding 2003 season, she was named the 2003 TOPS Co-Athlete of the Year with Carly Patterson. Memmel is the oldest of three daughters to Andrew and Jeanelle Memmel. Both of her parents were All-American gymnasts and won full college athletic scholarships.

Her mother is currently a gymnastics coach and club owner. Memmel has two sisters, Mara and Skyler, who are both gymnasts.

Jennifer Parilla( Women’s Trampoline) -  One of two children of Paul and Jan Parilla, Jennifer began competing internationally on the U.S. National Team at the age of 13. She made her mark immediately by placing first in at least one event at both of her first international competitions. Since then she has begun focusing her energy toward her favorite event - trampoline.

Currently enrolled at Orange Coast College in Newport Beach , Calif. , Jennifer says her favorite subject in school is psychology. She is a fan of techno music and in her spare time she remains active participating in snowboarding, kickboxing and dancing. The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens will be Parilla’s first, and she hopes to put her name in the record books as well as reach her biggest goal by taking home a gold medal.

Carly Patterson (Women’s Artistic All-Around) - The year 1994 stands out for this young gymnast. Focused at the time only on Barbie and playing outside, Patterson was first introduced to her sport while attending a birthday party at a local gymnastics school.

As the coach watched a limber Patterson flip around the mats, he commented to her parents that if she was not in gymnastics already – she should be. It was then, at the age of six, that her parents Ricky and Natalie signed up their first born for lessons that launched her career as one of America ’s most promising 2004 U.S. Olympic Hopefuls.

A straight-A high school student, Patterson enjoys things almost all 16 year olds do: shopping, movies and relaxing on the beach. Her favorite hobbies are swimming, bike riding and computers. The 4’6” Patterson says that after her successful gymnastics career, she wants to help others as a dental hygienist. She is the only person in the world to complete a round off, back handspring, Arabian double front dismount on beam.

 She practices for approximately 35 hours per week and is described by her coach, Evgeny Marchenko, as an athlete who competes best under pressure and can make last-minute adjustments on the spot.

Mary Sanders (Rhythmic) -  At 18 years old, this bright-eyed, well-spoken and intelligent rhythmic gymnast is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada . In January 2002 she became eligible to compete for the USA., a decision influenced by her deceased father, Fred, who was born in Michigan , won the 1963 NCAA trampoline title and introduced Mary to gymnastics at a young age.

Eleven years after her father’s death, his influence remains strong. “He had me doing splits by the time I was two. But since my father was an American gymnast it’s always been in my mind to compete for the USA . He taught me to fight for my goals, so I want to make him proud,” said Sanders. When she was 11, her coach told her she could have a modest career in artistic gymnastics, but thought rhythmic would ultimately be better because she has tall legs. “I don’t have the right body type to build muscle apparently,” she said.

Sanders is the first to admit that rhythmic, a discipline characterized by the use of a ball, hoop, clubs, rope or swirling strip, can get dangerous. Her favorite part of the competition is dance but that has been de-emphasized because new code points are focused on risky tricks.

Courtney Kupets (Women’s Artistic All-Around) -   What happens when your child tells you at the age of three that she wants to be an Olympic gymnast? For Kupets, who h ails from an athletic family, you say, “yes.” Her father, Mark, played college football; mother, Patti, was a college cheerleader; and her brother, Mark Jr., is a pole-vaulter; and her younger brother, Christopher, competes in basketball and football.

Courtney took what she calls the “safe route” by beginning in the sport of gymnastics at the age of three. A normal teenage girl, Kupets is a student at Magruder High School in Maryland . Her nickname, “Koops”, was designated to her at an early age, and her spare time is filled with shopping, reading, bike riding and spending time poolside. She is also active on the Internet, surfing and chatting with her peers.

Kupets has tried her hand at various sports, leading to the question which sport she would be involved with if she was not a world-class gymnast. She quickly replies, “ Most likely track and field."

Courtney McCool ( Women’s Artistic All-Around) -  McCool burst into the international spotlight by finishing second in the all-around at the 2004 Visa American Cup. McCool is the daughter of Mike, an/ interior designer, and Linda, a teacher. She has an older brother, Michael, and a younger sister, Morgan, who is a dancer. McCool’s favorite subject in school is math. She hopes to someday be a veterinarian. McCool enjoys listening to music and watching “Happy Days”. Her goal in gymnastics is to win a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Information provided by USOC Press Box

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