Un article sur Alicia Sacramone, le ranch Karolyi, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, ...
Getting routine down at the ranch
Hilton ensures Karolyi’s place a gymnastics fixture
NEW WAVERLY — As she works her way through her third Olympic cycle as an elite gymnast, every day at the Karolyi Ranch feels like Groundhog Day for Alicia Sacramone.
Sacramone, 23, who won a world championships gold medal last fall in her first international competition since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was hard at work again Wednesday at the ranch, located at the edge of the Sam Houston National Forest, at one of USA Gymnastics’ monthly training camps.
She has been visiting the ranch since she was a teenager and has kept coming back through triumphs, such as world championship gold medals in 2005 and 2007, and disappointments, including her performance in Beijing when she fell on two events as the U.S. women finished second to China.
“I was trying to think of how many camps I’ve been to, and I can’t even count them,” Sacramone said. “I woke up today and it was, ‘Well, I’m back here again.’ When somebody asked when I first came to camp and I couldn’t remember, it was like, ‘You’re really old.’ And I was, ‘Yeah, a little bit.’ ”
Eye toward 2012 Games
Athletes such as Sacramone and 2009 world all-around champion Bridget Sloan, however, represent the bedrock support for the U.S. team as it prepares for the 2012 London Olympics. And Sacramone’s performance at the 2010 worlds, when she won gold on vault, shows that she can still compete with teenagers.
“It was gratifying,” she said. “I knew I could compete better than I did (in Beijing), and I wanted to prove that I wasn’t that athlete (who faltered in Beijing). I had fun, and it was easier. When you’re doing it for the right reasons, you don’t feel as much pressure.”
As Sacramone and her teammates progress toward the 2012 Games, they’ll get a boost in support from Hilton Worldwide, which announced Wednesday it has signed on as a corporate sponsor for USA Gymnastics through 2012. The U.S. Olympic Committee also announced it has designated the Karolyi Ranch, which has hosted USA Gymnastics training camps since 2001, as a USOC training site.
Women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi, who owns the ranch with her husband, former national team coach Bela Karolyi, said the couple hopes the ranch will represent their legacy to the sport of gymnastics in the United States.
A big commitment
“We worked all our lives for this,” she said. “Gymnastics is not only our profession but our passion. We have developed a training system that been very efficient and has brought us great success, and we are very happy that we have been recognized for that.”
2008 silver medalist Shawn Johnson, who took a break from competition that included a win in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, will be at the ranch today for a training camp. 2008 Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin is training in Plano with her father and coach, Valeri Liukin, and Martha Karolyi said Nastia Liukin may attend camps later this year as she works toward a potential run at the 2012 Games.
“Shawn looks very enthusiastic, and Valeri has said he will bring Nastia here when she is in shape to show us her strengths,” Karolyi said. “We have some strong gymnasts who are looking good, and I feel pretty optimistic.”
The Hilton sponsorship also includes financial support for members of the men’s gymnastics team, including two-time national champion Jonathan Horton of Houston and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Paul Hamm, who have continued to compete.
Jeff Diskin, Hilton’s senior vice president of global customer marketing, declined to estimate the value of Hilton’s support for the federation, but similar commitments in the past have totaled in the middle six figures.