SAN JOSE, Calif. - The best gymnasts in the country are in the South Bay, ahead of Thursday’s opening of the USA Gymnastics Championship at SAP Center in San Jose.
With chiseled physiques and super-human skills, on Wednesday, competitors practiced on the floor of the downtown arena.
"We have Simone Biles. How often are you going to see her competing for a championship in your hometown? So to me, that means the world, to have the greatest of all time is here, competing," said John Poch, executive director of the San Jose Sports Authority.
Biles is one of 146 athletes participating in this run-up to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Twenty-nine of the gymnasts have ties to the Bay Area, and 11 of those are linked to Stanford University.
This is the fourth time USA Gymnastics has held a large-scale event in San Jose. The last time was the 2016 Olympic trials.
"So, this venue is really familiar to us. It has hosted multiple Olympic trials. And this week we bring back our U.S. championships for the first time since they were last held here in 2007. So we do have a very rich history here," said President and CEO Li Li Leung.
She said she’s worked the past four years to change the culture of her organization after a major legal settlement to hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse, by former team doctor Larry Nassar. The result has been a greater focus on safety through updated policies and priorities.
"Countless athletes, coaches, and members of the community have come up to me and said they are truly feeling and seeing this change," said Leung.
Local sports leaders say renewed interest in gymnastics post-pandemic is creating an economic tide for South Bay businesses.
"We just need to keep these events going, bringing them to San Jose. It’s more than just gymnastics, right? It’s a boon to everybody," said Poch.
The competition runs from Thursday through Sunday.
Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on Twitter, @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv