Aug. 10, 2001
NORMAN, Okla. - The University of Oklahoma was well-represented at the U.S. National Championships in Philadelphia, Pa., as assistant coach Guard Young finished fifth overall and was selected to compete at October's World Championships in Belgium. Sophomore Jock Stevens placed 24th overall, but it was his teammate and assistant coach who is going to represent his country on the gymnastics world's biggest stage.
"I never in my life thought I'd be competing at such a huge event," said Young of the upcoming World Championships. "I was even debating last year whether or not to continue in gymnastics, and I couldn't have done it without Mark (Williams, OU's head coach), my wife, the team and Jock Stevens. He trained with me all summer, for seven hours a day. We had no summer vacation, and it's all paying off."
A graduate of Oklahoma City's Putnam City North High School and Brigham Young University, Young had to wait a half hour after the competition ended to learn his fate for the World Championship team.
"I knew it was going to be close," said Young, whose father Wayne was a 1976 Olympic gymnast. "My goal was to have fun and perform. This is a performance sport and I worked all summer to prepare for this meet. It's really gratifying to make it."
"Guard made it, this is so awesome and unbelievable," said an elated Williams. "He was picked, which is the hard way to make it, but this is like being selected for an Olympic team, only in a non-Olympic year."
Young was the junior national champion in 1996 and has been a member of the U.S. National Team in the past. But he has never competed at the prestigious World Championship level before. At the national championships, he won a silver medal in the floor exercise and narrowly missed winning a bronze medal in the still rings competition.
"He's on the U.S. team for Worlds and he'll compete in six weeks in Belgium," said Williams. "This is so huge. He's been asked to do so much. There was a change-over in scoring, he's been a coach and a gymnast for us and he really deserves this. I couldn't be more happy for him."
Stevens earned a bronze medal and a great deal of respect at the national level. He finished in 24th place overall, and Williams is confident this is just the beginning of many good things for Stevens.
Young will now head to France, where he will work out with the five other gymnasts who advanced from the U.S. National Championships to the World Championships. The team will consist of Young, Sean Townsend, Brett McClure, Stephen McCain, Raj Bhavsar and Paul Hamm.