The Americans were big winners in elections for the International Gymnastics Federation.
Five Americans were elected to positions with the international governing body Friday, two of which carry considerable influence in the sport. USA Gymnastics chairman Peter Vidmar won a seat on the executive committee, the federation's decision-making body, while Steve Butcher was elected president of the men's technical committee. Each discipline in gymnastics -- men's, women's, rhythmic, acrobatic, trampoline and aerobic -- has a technical committee to oversee and administer its rules, regulations and governance.
Italian Bruno Grandi was easily elected to his fifth, four-year term as president of the FIG.
"There are two things to me on the surface that are important," Vidmar said from Cancun, Mexico, where the elections were held. "One, of course, is the integrity of our competitions. We want to make sure that the outcomes are fair and that the best athletes win. And that we present gymnastics in the best light. We want the sport to be as exciting as it can be to watch.
"I think I can work together with other members of the FIG and get the sport moving in the right direction."
Caroline Hunt was re-elected to the rhythmic gymnastics technical committee while Tonya Case retained her seat on the acrobatic technical committee. Ron Froehlich was re-elected as the FIG's auditor.
The election was considered something of a referendum on Grandi's leadership, with the 78-year-old facing a rare challenge for re-election from Adrian Stoica of Romania, the longtime president of the men's technical committee, and Russia's Vassily Titov. Grandi has run the FIG since 1996 and is responsible for two of the more controversial decisions the sport has had: abandoning the 10.0 scale as part of an overhaul of the scoring system in artistic gymnastics, and raising the minimum age for the Olympics and world championships to 16.
But Grandi beat both Stoica and Titov easily. He won 68 of the 106 votes, compared with 24 for Titov and just 14 for Stoica.
Stoica then lost his position with the men's technical committee. Butcher, who has been on the committee the past four years and is a highly respected international judge, received 61 votes. Stoica had 43.
"If you could have heard the cheers when they announced his name, it was resounding. He's that well respected," Vidmar said. "I know he'll be a great benefit to men's gymnastics globally through his contributions."
Vidmar's position on the executive committee will give him a say in decisions that affect the structure of gymnastics or how the sport is presented. Many fans have complained that the current scoring system, which awards separate marks for difficulty and execution, is not as easy to understand as the 10.0 scale, and Vidmar said he understands the concerns. People who have never played football or baseball can sit down and watch a game and know exactly what's going on, and Vidmar said gymnastics needs to be the same way.
Morinari Watanabe of Japan; Luo Chaoyi of China; Saif Abouedel of Kuwait; Alejandro Peniche of Mexico; Wolfgang Willam of Germany; and Ali Ahmad Al-Hitmi of Qatar also were elected to the executive committee.
"I want the sport to have the greatest appeal possible," said Vidmar, a double gold medalist at the 1984 Olympics. "(You have people) who are passionate about the sport and they love it, yet you travel to some of these big events and there's a few hundred people there. We need more than that. We deserve more than that."