SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — USA Gymnastics is looking to centralize its national training programs before the 2028 Olympics.
President Li Li Leung said Wednesday over a dozen cities have responded to the organization’s request for an “expression of interest” in taking on the project, which would serve as the training and wellness headquarters for the organization’s various disciplines.
The national camps for the programs are currently scattered across the country. The women’s artistic gymnastics national team trains in Texas. The men train in Colorado. The rhythmic gymnastics team meets in New York and the trampoline and tumbling programs split their camps between Utah and New Jersey.
“The vision of this facility is that it is going to be the heart hub of gymnastics in America,” Leung said. “So it’s going to be where the national teams will train. It’s going to be where athletes of all ages and levels will be able to see their role models train. They will be able to participate in camps and clinics and we will hold educational plans for coaches and judges here.”
The goal would be to trim the list to a series of finalists by early 2024. There is no timetable for when a site will be chosen. It’s also unclear on whether the organization would move its national headquarters from Indianapolis to wherever the training center might be built.
“It’s really a little too soon to say where we’ll be located and where we’re going to break ground, but I can tell you that there’s a long-term project that we’re all really, really excited to be a part of,” Leung said.
Leung said a variety of factors will be taken into consideration when selecting a site, including the area’s stance on women’s rights.
“In terms of a city or location aligning with our values, that is part of our consideration,” Leung said. “So there are many, many other considerations that fall into that really complex matrix of considerations.”
The move to centralize training is a project that had been in play previously with USA. The organization did use the Karolyi Ranch north of Houston for national camps for artistic, rhythmic and trampoline gymnasts but cut ties with the facility in January 2018 amid the fallout of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.
The organization has undergone a massive overhaul in the last five years, with the return of major corporate sponsors like Nike and Xfinity offering tangible evidence that it has achieved some of the “culture shift” that Leung said was a priority when she came on board in early 2019.
Leung pointed to the uptick in partnerships with high-profile companies as a byproduct of the work the organization has done in the post-Nassar era.
“Only by relentlessly pursuing this cultural change, we’ve been able to get to where we are today,” Leung said “And now we’re at a place where not just athletes and coaches want to come back and be a part of this community, but we actually now have corporate partners and major corporate partners who are wanting to be a part of this community as well.”