(Reuters) – USA Gymnastics said on Monday it agreed to buy a portion of the Texas-based training center for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team where celebrated coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi worked with some of the all-time greatest gymnasts.
The complex, which will be called the USA Gymnastics Athlete Development Center at the Karolyi Ranch, opened in 1984 and has played a vital role in making the U.S. women’s team a dominant force in global competitions.
The United States have won the last three world titles and are heavy favourites to win a second consecutive gold medal at next month’s Rio Olympics.
“This is a dream come true,” Bela Karolyi, who has worked with Mary Lou Retton, Kerri Strug and many others, said in a statement. “From the very beginning our goal has been to create something truly unique for USA Gymnastics and over the past few years that mission has been accomplished.
“The transition of ownership to the federation is exactly what we envisioned.”
Located in the Sam Houston Forest, the 36-acres facility includes three training gyms, a dance studio, housing for 300 athletes, coaches and administrators and a dining hall.
It has been the home of several Olympic and world champions and is also the designated Olympic training site for the USA Gymnastics National Team.
While parting with the gymnastics-related portion of the site, the Karolyis will retain their personal residences, a Lodge and the remaining acreage.
Martha Karolyi is retiring from her role as women’s national team coordinator, a position she has held since 2001, after the Aug. 5-21 Rio Olympics.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto. Editing by Steve Keating.)