UCLA Gymnastics Signs Blockbuster Recruiting Class

Nov. 13, 2009

UCLA gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field announced today the signing of a blockbuster recruiting class. Signing national letters-of-intent are 2008 Olympic silver medalist Samantha Peszek, U.S. national team members and 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials participants Mattie Larson and Olivia Courtney, and 2009 Canadian national champion Sydney Sawa.

Peszek, who is regarded as the No. 1 recruit in the country, was a member of the U.S. Olympic team that won the silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games and the 2007 U.S. squads that won gold medals at the World Championships and Pan American Games. A member of the USA National Team since 2004, Peszek has had tremendous success on both the national and international level. In 2008, she won the bronze medal in the all-around at the Tyson American Cup and finished fourth at both the USA Championships and Olympic Team Trials. In her first year of competition at the senior level in 2007, she won the vault and floor at the USA vs. Great Britain international competition and earned a seventh-place finish in the all-around at the national championships and was named the 2007 TOPs Athlete of the Year. At the junior level, she was the national champion on vault in 2005. Peszek, who hails from McCordsville, IN and trains at Sharp's Gymnastics Academy, will become the 11th Olympian to compete for UCLA since 2000.

Mattie Larson

Larson, a Los Angeles native who trains at nearby All Olympia Gymnastics Club, placed seventh in the all-around at both the 2008 USA Championships and Olympic Team Trials and won a bronze medal on floor exercise at the 2008 national championships. In 2007, she won team gold, silver in the all-around and bronze on uneven bars at the Gymnix International, and she also won three gold medals (team, all-around, floor) and a silver on uneven bars at the Junior Pan American Championships. This year, Larson won the balance beam and floor exercise titles at the World Cup in Montreal. She has been a member of the USA National Team since 2007.

Olivia Courtney

Three-year USA National Team member Courtney comes to UCLA from Orlando, FL, where she trains at Orlando Metro. She placed 10th at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and won the all-around and placed second on uneven bars and floor exercise at the 2009 CoverGirl Classic. Internationally, she won a team gold medal at the 2007 Junior Pan American Championships and placed fifth in the all-around. In 2008, she won a silver medal in the all-around at the International Artistic Gymnastics Challenge in Belgium, and in 2009 she has a third-place all-around finish in a USA-France Friendly Exchange and a fourth-place showing in a USA-Germany Friendly Exchange.

Sydney Sawa

Sawa, a two-time World Championships competitor (2007, 2009), is the reigning Canadian national all-around and uneven bars champion and will become the 11th Canadian national champion to compete for UCLA. In addition to her success at the Canadian Championships, 2009 has been a good one for Sawa, with third-place finishes on uneven bars and floor exercise at the World Cup in Montreal and a first-place showing on balance beam and a fourth-place all-around result at the WOGA Classic. In 2008, Sawa placed second in the all-around, vault, beam and floor at Elite Canada, placed eighth on beam at the DTB Cup in Germany, placed fifth in the all-around and third on floor at the Canadian Championships, and earned fifth-place finishes in the all-around and on bars and beam at the International Gymnix in Montreal. Sawa was third in the all-around and second on floor at her first senior Canadian Championship in 2007.

'This is undoubtedly one of the strongest recruiting classes in our history,' said Kondos Field. 'We have signed four world-class student-athletes, all of whom have had extensive international competitive experience and are all-around competitors. Sam Peszek is one of the most celebrated gymnasts in the world. Sam will bring exciting and powerful gymnastics to every event. Olivia Courtney is the consistent `quiet storm.' Her quiet and calm personality compliments her consistent competitiveness as another great all-around competitor. Sydney Sawa, the reigning Canadian National Champion is one of those rare athletes who makes everything she does look effortless. And Mattie Larson, one of the most beautiful athletes in this sport, brings an exciting combination of power and exquisite artistry to her gymnastics.'

UCLA Gymnastics Signees
Samantha Peszek (McCordsville, IN/Cathedral HS/Sharp's Gymnastics Academy) - 2008 Olympic silver medalist
Mattie Larson (Los Angeles, CA/Baldwin Park Charter/All Olympia Gymnastics Club) - 2008 Olympic Trials competitor; 3-year National Team member
Olivia Courtney (Orlando, FL/William R. Boone HS/Orlando Metro) - 2008 Olympic Trials competitor; 3-year National Team member
Sydney Sawa (Calgary, Alberta, Canada/National Sport School/Calgary Gymnastics Centre) - 2009 Canadian National All-Around and Uneven Bars Champion; 2-time World Championships competitor

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