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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    The Visa Championships will be headlined by reigning Olympic women’s all-around champion and hometown girl Nastia Liukin.

    The Visa Championships is coming to Dallas, and USA Gymnastics said the decision to bring it to North Texas was a no-brainer.

    The event will be headlined by reigning Olympic women’s all-around champion and hometown girl Nastia Liukin.

    “Nastia Liukin winning it in 2008, Carly Patterson in 2004 -- it's something that just doesn't happen,” said Ron Galimore, vice president of USA Gymnastics.

    The organization is hoping for a huge enthusiastic turnout for the event at the American Airlines Center.

    No one will find higher caliber gymnasts in one place at one time anywhere else in the United States, Galimore said.

    “The way it's set up here, it will feel like the Olympic Games," he said. "This is what the arena looks like when you go to the Olympic Games."

    The men’s competition begins Wednesday and concludes Friday. The women will compete Thursday and Saturday.  

    The event is star-powered with former American Olympic champions such as Carly Patterson, Kurt Thomas and Kim Zmeskal as well as the co-owners of the local WOGA Gym, Olympic champions Valeri Liukin and Yevgeny Marchenko.

    USA Gymnastics said tickets have sold well. If attendance is good and enthusiasm is high, organizers said they’ll be looking for any excuse to bring other huge meets to Dallas.

    The organization wants to build on the success of North Texas Olympians and the bevy of local gyms owned by former world-class gymnasts.

    Flower Mound native Steve Legendre, the 2008-2009 NCAA men’s gymnastic champion from the University of Oklahoma, said the array of talent and performing at home gives him butterflies.

    “There's so many great gymnasts from this area, but at the same time, I think everybody around the country is seeing what's going on and definitely catching up doing the same things,” he said.

    Liukin is also making news with the announcement of her partnership with USA Gymnastics to create a meet named in her honor, the Nastia Liukin Cup.

    The meet will debut in March 2010 and will feature gymnasts selected from meets across the nation. None of the competitors selected for the Liukin Cup will be elite gymnasts.

    Liukin said she wants to use the meet to inspire athletes not quite at that level. Proceeds from the Liukin Cup will fund scholarships for gymnasts. Liukin is also starting a fund to support other athletes