World Class places five in Jr. Olympics event

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2012

World Class Gymnastics, with locations in Suffolk and Newport News, will host the nation’s top Level 10 gymnasts this weekend during the Junior Olympic National Championships at the Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton.

Five members of the World Class Level 10 team will be among the 450 gymnasts participating in the Level 10 National Championships. Level 10 is the highest level in the Junior Olympic program, which is just under the elite level.

Savannah Borman, Rebekah Conrad, Taylor Harrison, Ashley Lambert and Bridget Steffen are among the 15 gymnasts who qualified for the championships from Virginia.

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USA Gymnastics has eight regions, and the top seven gymnasts from each region’s Regional Championships advance to nationals. These gymnasts are vying to become Junior Olympic national champions in the all-around, as well as in all four events: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. The winning regions will also be determined at the conclusion of the competition.

The top four all-around athletes in each age division also qualify to the 2012 Junior Olympic National Team and are invited to attend a National Training Camp at a U.S. Olympic training site in Texas.

The Junior Olympic National Championships is the culmination of the competitive season. The U.S. Junior Olympic National Championships is one of the national championships of USA Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body in the United States. Many Junior Olympic champions have gone on to make the U.S. National Team and represent the United States in international competition and/or to compete in collegiate gymnastics.

Many of the country’s top gymnasts are former participants in the Junior Olympic program, including 2011 World Champion Jordyn Wieber, 2012 City of Jesolo Champion Kyla Ross, 2009 World vault champion Kayla Williams, 2008 Olympic balance beam gold-medalist Shawn Johnson, 2008 Olympic team silver-medalist Samantha Peszek, 2004 Olympic team silver-medalist Courtney McCool and 2006 World all-around silver-medalist Jana Bieger, to name a few.

The Junior Olympic NIT was developed to allow an additional 192 athletes an opportunity to compete at the national level and features gymnasts who ranked eighth and ninth in the all-around in each of the eight age divisions at the Level 10 Regional Championships (provided they achieved a minimum all-around score of 34.00), plus any Regional individual event champions who did not qualify to the Junior Olympic Nationals or the Junior Olympic NIT in the all-around qualify for that event.