A showcase of future stars.
That’s how the Tyson American Cup, hosted at the Liacouras Center earlier this month, was being touted.
In its 30th year, the American Cup featured some of the world’s up-and-coming gymnasts from nearly a dozen countries, competing for global prominence. United States gymnast Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas, dominated the women’s events and finished in first place in all-around.
Fellow American Jonathan Horton gained first place in all-around in the final day of competition, beating Japan’s Hisashi Mizutori.
While the American Cup does not garner the fan base or media attention of NCAA basketball of football, it drew more than 4,000 people to the Liacouras Center and was televised nationally on NBC.
At the American Cup, which is hosted by different cities each year, every competitor takes home a prize. First-place winners received $7,500, while second- and third-place finishers earned prizes of $5,000 and $1,500, respectively. Gymnasts who placed fourth and fifth won $1,000 prizes, and those who finished in sixth, seventh and eighth place got $500.
Liukin and Horton were the crowd favorites during the two-day event, being greeted with loud applause every time they stepped onto the floor to compete.
But the American Cup was more than just a showcase of American gymnasts. Every gymnast received a warm welcome by the Liacouras Center crowd.
Temple displayed a great deal of hospitality during the American Cup’s brief stay in Philadelphia, USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said. He added that Philadelphia would be considered for future events.
“The Philly area has been very supportive of gymnastics,” Penny said at American Cup festivities. “This building hosted our championships in 2001, so we had a high degree of confidence that not only would we attract a good crowd, but the facility would be a great facility for the event and it definitely turned out that way.
“I was so happy with the crowd,” he added. “I mean it was a good audience and the university really stepped up to help us. And [Temple men’s gymnastics coach] Fred Turoff did a great job of bringing sponsors to the table.”
USA gymnast David Durante, a Garwood, N.J., native who finished third in the men’s all-around, was a fan favorite. People of all ages shouted praise every time Durante competed.
Durante said he didn’t mind the attention at all. In fact, he used it as motivation.
“[It’s] awesome,” he said of competing so close to home. “I am so happy, I had a lot of family and friends in the stands and I think I made some new ones up here. It was great to see everybody so loud.
“We had a great crowd. That’s really what gymnastics is all about. At least [that’s] part of it.”
Jabari Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.