Houstonians may land big Olympic roles

February 5, 2008 9:08:54 PM PST
Coming up may 22 through the 24 is the 2008 Visa Gymnastics Championships, the first of two tournaments from which the US men's Olympic team will be chosen. Olympic years always seem to bring out the best in gymnastics. The truth of the matter is these guys look like this every day.

"The team is high flying," said Olympic Gymnastics Coach Bela Karolyi. "These guys are definitely Olympic medal contenders."

Karolyi is in town to help promote the 2008 Visa Championships at Reliant Arena. Bela is as fired up as ever about the US's Olympic chances. Houston has a shot a landing two men on the squad and possibly the head coach.

"I would sign up and I would scream and yell, 'He needs to be the Olympics coach'," said Karolyi.

Houston Gymnastic Academy's Kevin Mazaka, the 2004 Olympic coach, will find out this week if he'll lead the 2008 squad. Clear Brook product Sean Townsend and Mayde Creek's Raj Bhavsar will battle for spots.

"I'm surprisingly probably in best the best shape of my life right now," said Townsend. "I haven't been this motivated, this healthy since 2000. It's going to be a great year."

"I'm going to have a lot of friends, family in the stands, so I'm going to try to put on the best show I can that day," said Bhavsar.

"It's an Olympic year, everybody steps it up a notch, including my guys. This championship is going to be outstanding," said Mazaka.

Townsend and Bhavsar, both 27, are nearing the end of their competitive days. Both are ready to go out in style.

"It's a special year for me," said Townsend.

"I just want to close this chapter of my life with an Olympic team," said Bhavsar.

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