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August 12, 2012

Beaming up

Gymnastics medals by Americans in London spur interest in sport

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — There’s a television in the lobby of Zero Gravity Gymnastics Center in Newfane. For the past two weeks or so, visitors or waiting gymnasts at the center have been able to watch the 2012 Olympics from London.

There was a lot of interest in this year’s Games, said Zero Gravity owner Nancy Case. 

”They certainly know all about Gabby, Jordan and Aly,” Case said, referring to a few American gymnasts who won medals. 

The Americans fared well in gymnastics during the London Games. Altogether the U.S. team captured six medals, including three golds. 

America’s newest sweetheart, Gabby Douglas, won a gold medal in the women’s individual all around competition. Aly Raisman won a pair of medals, gold in the floor exercise event and bronze in the balance beam. McKayla Maroney won a silver medal on the vault.

Danell Leyva won bronze in the men’s individual all around competition. 

But the big win was by the U.S.’s own “Fab Five,” the team consisting of Douglas, Maroney, Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross. They brought home gold in the team all around competition. 

Case said gymnastic centers often see an increase in enrollment following the Olympics, but typically not until the fall. After all, it is still summer, so many of the kids still have other sports, activities or vacations going on.

”We’ve seen a little bit, but enrollment typically goes up when school starts,” Case said.

Four years ago, Americans brought home 10 medals in gymnastics, including a bronze in the men’s team all around competition and silver in the women’s. Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson each won a gold medal and a pair of silvers.

Following that Olympics, national participation in gymnastics jumped about 8 percent in 2008-09, according to figures from USA Gymnastics. More than 100,000 participate now.

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