Cowboys' stadium hosts world's top gymnasts in American Cup
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It wasn't the Olympics, but gymnastics has never seen a bigger stage.
AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas was the site of the 2015 AT&T American Cup on Saturday where 18 of the world's best gymnasts competed on the floor where Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys usually score touchdowns.
"I've never competed in a football stadium and I know all these girls haven't either," said the retired 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin, who hosted the Nastia Liukin Cup at the stadium on Friday. "To be here at AT&T Stadium, there's nothing bigger than this in the country or the world."
Texas native and fan favorite Simone Briles took home the crown for the women with a 62.299 all-around score, and her fellow American teammate MyKayla Skinner came in second with a 57.832. The U.S. women have dominated the American Cup, winning the last 13 titles.
The American men failed to capture the cup for the first time since 2010. Donnell Whittenburg finished third with an 89.932 all-around score despite holding the lead heading into the final event.
While many of the international gymnasts weren't familiar with American football, the word about Jerry World is well-known around the world.
"I knew the Cowboys and this was their stage, but I didn't realize how spectacular it would look," Great Britain's Daniel Purvis said. "I was pretty mind blown. Just looking up at how many [Super Bowl] titles they have, I'd love to come to a game."
The bright lights and the mammoth video board hung about 40-feet lower than a football game, but it didn't faze Briles or any of the others during the competition.
"Yes, we're in the Cowboys' stadium, but once we come in here, we're here to do our job," she said. "We just think of it as any other meet. It was still a really big competition and I think it was a really good start to the year, but I didn't focus on how big the crowd or stadium was."
The 2016 American Cup is set to take place at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., but President of USA Gymnastics Steve Penny hopes to see it back in the Lone Star State in the near future.
"Texas is one of our largest markets and we've been in Dallas before," he said. "We approached the Cowboys when the city was still in that bid process for the Olympic games and it just seemed to fit."
The 2016 Summer Olympics is still a year and a half away, but there's little doubt who will be representing the U.S. in Brazil and possibly follow in the footsteps of Liukin and the other Americans who have won gold.
"AT&T Stadium itself is bigger than the Olympics," Liukin said. "But this is a really good kickoff to the road to Rio."
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