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World-class gymnasts come to Worcester for American Cup

WORCESTER — The American Cup has a decidedly appetizing international flavor to it.

While the US contingent of Simone Biles, Katelyn Ohashi, Jake Dalton, and Danell Leyva will be the main attractions Saturday at the DCU Center, the fields for this world-class gymnastics competition are packed with rising stars and decorated Olympians from eight other countries.

This is the first senior competition since the torch was extinguished in London. It marks the start of a four-year run to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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The overseas high fliers include 15-year-old Gabrielle Jupp of Great Britain, the youngest competitor who is making her senior debut, and Jorge Hugo Giraldo Lopez, a 33-year-old Colombian who participated in the Athens, Beijing, and London Games and is the elder statesperson of the 16 gymnasts here.

All will compete with a likeminded aim.

“It’s my first senior competition, so I’m just looking to go out there and enjoy the competition and have a clean competition,” Jupp said Thursday following practice.

“I want to try one or two new skills; I changed my routines from the Olympics,” said Marcel Nguyen, who won a pair of silvers in London while becoming the first German to medal in the all-around at the Games since 1936. “I’m looking forward to completing my routines with no mistakes.”

Nguyen, the son of a German mom and Vietnamese dad, has the motivational slogan, “Pain is temporary, pride is forever,” tattooed in script across his chest. He was required to cover it up during the Olympics, but has no such plans for Saturday.

In addition to Nguyen, the men’s field features four other gymnasts who placed in the top 11 in the all-around at the Games. There’s Leyva (third), Kristian Thomas of Great Britain (seventh), Sergio Sasaki of Brazil (10th), and Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine (11th).

Thomas’s introduction to the sport is classic, one gymnastic moms and dads the world over can relate to.

“My older brother was kind of climbing and jumping and doing things that he shouldn’t have been,” Thomas recalled. “So my mom and dad took him to a local gym and I just followed. I was 5 years old and not really knowing what gymnastics is or what it’s about. The rest is history, I guess.”

While Victoria Moors stressed her approach is day to day, the 16-year-old Canadian acknowledged she already has an eye on the Games.

“Watching the Olympics on TV, you get that warm feeling,” said Moors, who helped Canada place fifth in the team competition in London. “But when you’re on the floor, it’s like everything combined — the nerves, the excitement, the accomplishment. There’s no other feeling like it and that’s probably what stood out the most.”

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