More than a thousand competitors are expected to converge on Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines for today’s start of the A-A-U Gymnastics Age-Group National Championships. Spokesman Jim Newsom says this tournament separates the competitors by age then divides them up based on level of skill. He says each level has a step up in the difficulty or types of skills. Competetive gymnasts can put in up to 20 to 25 hours of practice each week. In AAU he says most people can’t afford to put in as much time, he says the program still allows them to compete. Newsom says like many other of the Olympic sports gymnastics typically sees a surge of interest during Olympic years. He says it’s hard for people to understand how the Olympic athletes get so good, he says that’s what AAU does, teaches them the skills they need to work up to that level.Competition runs through Saturday.