Spring's Olympic bid begins on Thursday, May 22.
May 20, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill.- Illinois assistant coach Justin Spring will compete this week at the 2008 Visa U.S. Championships, held May 22-24, in Houston, Texas at Reliant Park. The meet will feature over 40 of the nation's top gymnasts and is the first of two steps toward making the 2008 Olympic team. The championships will also determine the 14-member U.S. national team, which will represent the United States at international competitions throughout the next year.
"I can't believe that the Championships are already here," assistant coach Justin Spring said. "I've been training for this moment since I can remember. The Visa's are only one step toward the Olympic Trials. I know I've done everything I can to prepare for this and that's all I can ask for of myself."
The schedule for men's artistic gymnastics is: Thursday, May 22--senior men's first day of competition at 7 p.m.; and May 24--junior men's all-around and individual event finals at 12:30 p.m., and the final day of the senior men's competition at 6 p.m. Televised coverage of the 2008 Men's Visa Championships will run June 8, from 1-3 p.m. CT on NBC Sports.
This year's Visa Championships mark Spring's first major competition since tearing his ACL at last year's Visa Championships in August. The Burke, Va., native earned his seventh overall selection to the U.S. Senior National Team on Feb. 12. Spring, a 2007 Pan American Games gold medalist on parallel bars while leading the U.S. Team to a bronze medal, a two-time U.S. High Bar champion (2007 and 2005) and a U.S. silver medalist on floor (2007), was the only gymnast to earn a petitioned athlete spot on the 2008 team.
Other Illini competing at the 2008 Visa Championships include senior Wes Haagensen, freshman Paul Ruggeri, and incoming freshman Tyler Mizoguchi (Houston Gymnastics Academy) in the senior men's field.
"This is a crucial competition for Wes and Paul to establish themselves in the USA Gymnastics community," Spring added. "Wes is coming out of NCAA competition and this is his time to shine. If they both have a good showing, they stand a great chance of competing and being a part of USA Gymnastics."
In the junior men's field, incoming freshman competing at the 2008 Visa Championships include C.J. Padera (Bartlett Gymnastics), Austin Phillips (US Gymnastics Development Center II), and Devin Regan (Buffalo Grove Gymnastics). The men's field breaks down into 44 seniors and 35 juniors.
After the Visa Championships, the 14 gymnasts selected to the national team will head to Olympic Trials on June 19-22 in Philadelphia, Pa., at the Wachovia Center. The Olympic team is then chosen based on the gymnast's combined performances at the Visa Championships as well as the Olympic Trials. The 2008 Beijing Olympics will be held Aug. 8-24 at the National Indoor Stadium.