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American Cup Champions In Olympic Years

Year

Men’s Champion

Women’s Champion

1976

Bart Conner (USA)

Nadia Comaneci (ROM)

1980

Kurt Thomas (USA)

Tracee Talavera (USA)

1984

Peter Vidmar (USA)

Mary Lou Retton (USA)

1988

Marius Toba (ROM)

Phoebe Mills (USA)

1992

Jarrod Hanks (USA)

Kim Zmeskal (USA)

1996

John Roethlisberger (USA)

Kerri Strug (USA)

2000

Eric Lopez (CUB)

Elena Produnova (RUS)

2004

Jason Gatson (USA)

Carly Patterson (USA)

2008

Paul Hamm (USA)

Nastia Liukin (USA)

2012

?

?

 

Nearly all of these gymnasts made their respective Olympic teams in the year they won these American Cup titles, and many had extremely successful Olympic outings.  The only exceptions would be Kurt Thomas, who almost certainly would have made the 1980 Olympic team had he not retired when the USA boycotted those Games, Paul Hamm, who was initially named to the 2008 Olympic team before having to drop out with an injury, and Jarrod Hanks, who failed to make the Olympic team in 1992.  But overall, these gymnasts made some pretty impressive Olympic splashes shortly after winning these prestigious titles.  In fact, both the last two women’s champions in 2004 and 2008 went on to win the Olympic all-around titles those years.  It appears the American Cup crown in the Olympic year is not a bad feather to have in one’s cap.

 

Below are the current rosters for the men’s and women’s fields at this year’s American Cup, set to take place in New York City this coming weekend.  The rosters are listed in all-around rank order from the most recent world championships in Tokyo:

 

Men

Daniel Purvis – GBR – 4th

John Orozco – USA – 5th

Mykola Kuksenkov – UKR – 7th

Marcel Nguyen –GER – 8th

Cyril Tommasone – FRA – 9th

Danell Leyva – USA – 24th

Oleg Verniahiev – UKR – unranked

Ryuzo Sejima – JPN – unranked

Chris Brooks – USA – exhibition

 

Women

Jordyn Wieber – USA – 1st

Aly Raisman – USA – 4th

Lisa Hill – GER – 46th

Diana Chelaru – ROM – unranked

Georgia Simpson – AUS – unranked

Larisa Lordache – ROM – 1st year senior

Rebecca Tunney – GBR – 1st year senior

Victoria Moors – CAN – 1st year senior

Gabrielle Douglas – USA – exhibition

 

On the men’s side, I’m expecting John Orozco to be the one to beat.  He did a fantastic job at the Winter Cup, and right now appears to be America’s cleanest, most well-rounded, and most consistent all-around gymnast.  Although Danell Leyva placed a disappointing 24th in the all-around finals in Tokyo after he crashed one of his high bar release moves, remember that he placed 3rd overall in the prelims and is America’s reigning national champion.  He improved his form and consistency tremendously last year and could potentially give Orozco a run for his money.  I would expect the clean and stylish Daniel Purvis of Great Britain and last year’s silver medalist Mykola Kuksenkov of Ukraine to be the Americans’ closest challengers, but the Americans might need to open the door with some big mistakes to allow one of these two to steal the crown.

 

On the women’s side, it’s a bit ironic that the event that’s now designed to invite the top eight all-around gymnasts in the world to compete could only entice two gymnasts who even competed in the recent world all-around finals.  There will still be an interesting showdown to watch, though – between reigning world all-around champion Jordyn Wieber, the rock-solid Aly Raisman, and the rising star Romanian Larisa Lordache, predicted by many to be a potential Olympic all-around threat.  We’ll see some highlight routines here and there from the other athletes, but the title will be for one of these three to take.