SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Gymnastics fans and Olympics enthusiasts from across the country have their attention fixed on San Jose, where the 2012 U.S. Olympics Trials for gymnastics began Thursday.
The competition brings the nation’s top 15 male and top 15 female gymnasts to the HP Pavilion, where they will tumble, vault and backflip for the chance to land one of 10 available spots on the U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed—who proclaimed San Jose “Gymnastics City” for the weekend—joined the athletes, sports fans and city officials at Thursday’s opening ceremonies at the HP Pavilion.
City Councilman Sam Liccardo, whose district includes the venue, said the community is thrilled to be hosting the event.
“We’re all excited about the Olympic trials,” Liccardo said before the ceremony. “Increasingly, San Jose has become a destination for major sports events, continuing the momentum as w said.
“Increasingly, San Jose has become a destination for major sports events, continuing the momentum as we create a more vibrant downtown.”
Liccardo said he would be attending Thursday’s ceremony.
“I’ll be attending the opening ceremonies and participating in the balance beam competition,” he joked.
In 2007, San Jose hosted the national gymnastics championships, which San Jose Sports Authority executive director Patricia Ernstrom said is, to date, the most successful such event in terms of attendance and visibility.
Since then, city officials and the Bay Area gymnastics community have worked with the U.S. Olympics Committee to bring the prestigious team trials to San Jose for the first time, Ernstrom said.
“It’s a big deal in the sports community, and it’s also an event that captures the attention of the larger community,” Ernstrom said.
“Sports fan or not, it’s hard not to be a fan of the Olympics,” she said.
The competition began with the men’s trials Thursday afternoon and concludes with the women’s finals on Sunday.
“By Sunday evening, we’ll know who will be representing our country at the London Olympics,” Ernstrom said.
Before and after each day’s competition, there will be free block parties and fan fests on the blocked-off streets around HP Pavilion.
Fans will be treated to autograph sessions, food booths, live music and fitness games.
Tickets to the competitions are still available, Ernstrom said. They can be purchased through Ticketmaster or by going online at www.usagym.org/pages/events/trials/, where a full schedule of the weekend’s events is available.
Information about bus and rail transportation to the event can be found online at www.vta.org.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)