The stars of the U.S. gymnastics team that won nine medals at the Athens Olympics alight at MCI Center today to showcase their skills in the T.J. Maxx Tour of Gymnastics Champions. The two-hour show combines elite gymnastics, trampoline and high-flying performance art featuring a cast of Olympic champions, acrobats and Cirque de Soleil veterans.
The main attraction, no doubt, will be Olympic all-around gold medalist Carly Patterson, who also won silver on the balance beam, her favorite event, and played a key role in securing the team silver medal. Also on the bill is Courtney Kupets of Gaithersburg, who helped secure the team silver and claimed bronze on the uneven bars.
They'll be joined by U.S. team members Terin Humphrey (silver medalist on uneven bars), Annia Hatch (silver on vault) and Mohini Bhardwaj, and three members of the silver medal-winning men's team -- Jason Gatson, Brett McClure and Guard Young.
Rounding out the bill are gymnasts from other disciplines: rhythmic gymnast Mary Sanders, who competed in Athens; two-time Olympic trampoline specialist Jennifer Parilla, 23; and world champion sports acrobats Shenea Booth and Arthur Davis.
Notably absent are men's all-around champion Paul Hamm; his twin brother, Morgan; and three-time Olympian Blaine Wilson. They're taking part in a rival post-Olympic tour that bypasses the Washington area.
Paul Hamm, the first American man to win the all-around title, is awaiting a decision by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport on whether he will be allowed to keep the gold medal or be directed to surrender it to South Korea's Yang Tae Young, who is appealing a scoring error that deprived him of a tenth of a point during the competition. That decision isn't expected before Oct. 11.
Doors open to the general public at 6:30 p.m. A select group of ticket holders will be admitted at 5:30 p.m. to take part in a half-hour presentation by Kupets, Hatch, Sanders and U.S. team alternate Steve McCain about their Olympic experience. Information about registering for the session, called "Behind the Team," is available at www.usa-gymnastics.org.
-- Liz Clarke