Stephanie Rebman 5/7/09
Mike Tonos 5/7/09
Coach Igor Kolpakchi works with Natalie Manga, 16, of New York on the uneven bars during workouts Thursday at the BancorpSouth Arena. She is among the participants in the 2009 Junior Olympic Level 9 Eastern Championships being held in Tupelo.
Want to watch?
The gymnastics competition is open to the public. Day passes for adults are $15 and $10 for children and seniors 60 and up. Weekend tickets are available. For the schedule and more information, go to http://meets.msusag.org/easterns/.
HED: Top young gymnasts compete in Tupelo
LEAD-IN: Tourism officials expect a major economic impact from the weekend event.
By Carlie Kollath
TUPELO – The city is hosting a high-level gymnastics competition that tourism officials say will create at least a $250,000 economic impact for the area.
The 2009 USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Level 9 Eastern Championships kicks off today at 9 a.m. at the BancorpSouth Arena. More than 300 female gymnasts ages 9 through 18 will compete in disciplines including floor exercise, beam, vault and uneven bars.
Neal McCoy, the sports development director with the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the competitors had to win at their state and regional competitions to compete at this weekend’s event.
The eastern championship is the highest national competition for Level 9 gymnasts east of the Mississippi River.
Gymnasts participate in different skill levels. Level 10 is the highest before gymnasts enter into training to become an Olympian, McCoy said.
Because the competitors come from across the Eastern seaboard, many will stay in area hotels and rent cars. McCoy said it’s one of the first times in his recollection that rental car companies had to bring in extra vehicles to satisfy the demand.
After their eating out and shopping, McCoy said the $250,000 estimate is at the low end. He said he would be surprised if the economic impact doesn’t hit $500,000.