Karolyi Ranch named official Olympic training site

January 24, 2011 3:56:30 PM PST
The Bela Karolyi Ranch that served as the training center for some of the world's best Olympic gymnasts is about to become an official Olympic gymnastics training site. And that could mean some big changes coming for the small town of New Waverly. Lunch time at the Waverly House restaurant is usually busy.

"It's just a small town, so I think it'll be a change," said resident Brittney Inglet.

They're expecting it to get busier.

"We're glad they're here. It's kind of a neat thing, neat for the area," said Annie Holland, owner of the Waverly House.

Holland says they notice a spike in business -- 10 to 15 percent -- during the summer when gymnastics camps are offered at the Karolyi Ranch, and she is hoping the Olympic training site designation will make such a spike permanent.

"They stop and eat on the way home or on the way to get them," Holland said. "It's always good for business."

Karolyi Ranch is owned and operated by Bela and Martha Karolyi. You might remember he coached several Olympic and world champions, including Dominique Moceanu and Mary Lou Retton.

The facility sits on 2,000 acres at the edge of the Sam Houston Forest near New Waverly and Huntsville. They have housing for 300 athletes, coaches and administrators. It currently serves as the official training site for women's gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling and acrobatic gymnastics.

The Hunstville-Walker County Chamber of Commerce echoes the general business owner's optimism about the impact the facility might have on this economy. It's too early they say to put a number on the size of that impact.

"The fact that it's been named an official training facility -- we think that's huge," said Carol Smith of the Hunstville-Walker County Chamber of Commerce.