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Qualification Begins for Youth Olympic Games
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The first qualification event for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games kicked off Thursday, as the 12th African Gymnastics Championships began in Tshwane, South Africa.

The African championships is the first of five continental qualifications events this spring for artistic gymnastics, while the second qualification event begins Friday with the Junior Pan American Championships in Aracaju, Brazil.

Each of the five regions can secure a specific number of berths to the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. The artistic gymnastics competition — for female gymnasts born in 1999 and male gymnasts born in 1997 and 1998 — takes place Aug. 17-24 at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium.

The inaugural Youth Summer Olympiad took place in 2010 in Singapore, where Viktoria Komova (Russia) and Yuya Kamoto (Japan) were crowned as the first Youth Olympic all-around champions in artistic gymnastics. The 2010 Youth Olympic Games featured more than 3,500 young athletes from 205 nations competing in 26 Olympic sports, including artistic and rhythmic gymnastics as well as trampoline.

In Nanjing, a total of 84 berths for artistic gymnastics (42 female and 42 male) are available. The host nation is automatically granted one spot in each discipline, while 76 gymnasts will earn berths through competition and six more will be selected by committee.

2014 Youth Olympic Games Continental Berths

Women's Artistic Gymnastics19949142
Men's Artistic Gymnastics191048142

The top-ranked gymnasts at each of the five qualifying events will earn berths for his or her National Olympic Committee (NOC).

2014 Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers

RegionQualification EventDateCityCountry
Africa12th African ChampionshipsMarch 27-April 4Tshwane South Africa
Pan AmericaJunior Pan American ChampionshipsMarch 28-30Aracaju Brazil
Asia13th Junior Asian ChampionshipsApril 10-13Tashkent Uzbekistan
EuropeJunior European ChampionshipsMay 12-25Sofia Bulgaria
OceaniaAustralian/New Zealand ChampionshipsMay 21-25Melbourne Australia

On Thursday, Egypt dominated day one of the African championships. In the junior men's competition, the Egyptian men won the team title over South Africa and Morocco. Egypt's Ahmeed Youssef (76.000) topped teammate Ahmed Amin (75.133) to take the junior all-around title. South Africa's Muhammad Khaalid Mia (73.433) won the bronze.

The Junior South American Championships begin Friday in Aracaju with the men's qualification. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia and Mexico all sent full teams to the event for both men and women.

The United States sent a men's squad to Aracaju but declined to send any female gymnasts. (The U.S. women also did not send a female gymnast to the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.) Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, told IG the U.S. instead hopes to qualify in the other Olympic gymnastics disciplines.

"The Youth Olympic Games differs from the Olympic Games in several ways, including a limited sports program and reduced athlete and coach allocations," Penny said. "As an organization, we view the Youth Olympic Games as an excellent developmental opportunity for an athlete, coach and discipline. Based on timing and program developmental needs, we believe men's gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline will benefit most from participating in this year's Youth Olympic Games."

External Link: 2014 Youth Olympics Official Website

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