Meet The Tokyo Bound 2021 U.S. Men's Artistic Gymnastics Olympic Team
Meet The Tokyo Bound 2021 U.S. Men's Artistic Gymnastics Olympic Team
Brody Malone, Yul Moldauer, Shane Wiskus, Sam Mikulak, and Alec Yoder punched their ticket to Tokyo following the 2021 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials.
With an audience of 13,379 fans, Day two was an electrifying night of excitement and glory. Here are the athletes that punch their ticket to Tokyo.
With 86.350 and a total score over two nights of 171.60, Malone automatically qualified for the Olympic Games. The calm and collected Malone didn’t miss a beat, winning the all-around title, just like he did earlier at U.S. Championships. As expected, he hit every event and kept his game face on. Malone earned top scores on the high bar and top two on the floor and rings.
Malone has been somewhat of an unknown these past couple of years. He chose not to compete for the 2018 U.S. Championships as he was preparing for Stanford and missed the 2019 meet participating in the Pan American Games.
He said it wasn’t until his freshmen year, after winning his first NCAA all-around Championship in 2019, that he thought making the Olympic team was possible.
Malone has had a tremendously successful past couple of years, winning Nationals and Trials and the past two NCAA all-around championships. Still, he doesn’t take anything for granted.
"I try to think about every meet as its own thing, and everything from the past doesn't matter anymore. It's a clean slate when I go to a new meet" Brody says.
With an outstanding competition, Moldauer finished with 84.950 for a total of 168.150. Moldauer is not only an Olympian, but at some point, he’ll have his own show. The fan-favorite placed first on the parallel bars and placed in the top three in the floor and rings (with a tie with Donnell Whittenburg). More than placing in the top two all-around, Moldauer brings a fire and energy that will help galvanize the team, especially under pressure situations.
Moldauer is looking forward to working with his teammates, knowing they’re all on the same page.
"This team is the same goal-oriented. In previous years the U.S. hasn't done as well, but we're all hungry. Shane and Brody are young. Sam has been through a lot of Olympics. We all bring positive energy and a goal mindset." Moldauer said.
The 2017 U.S. national all-around champion is often labeled the “hype” man.
"We're going to be pushing each other in the gym and on the competition floor. We've gotten to see each other grow up and watch each other rise when the moment's there, so we all know we can hit under pressure and move as a unit."
He’s also a great teammate, with one of his Tokyo goals to “get some hardware for Sam.”
Just weeks after the Minnesota Gophers cut their men’s gymnastic program, their number one star was named an Olympian. Wiskus finished third with a total of 83.850, for a combined 168.150. Wiskus had a steady, consistent meet, never losing focus and always staying in the zone.
Wiskus place second in his signature event, the parallel bars, narrowly missing it to Moldauer. While it’s unlikely the Gophers program will ever return, his win might start a dialogue about the importance of men’s gymnastics in the NCAA.
The 2021 NCAA all-Around silver medalist spent time between the first and second day of Trials mentally working and putting the puzzle back together in his head.
“The only thing on my mind was to calm things down, treat things like practice, and take it one step at a time.”
He's now taken an even bigger step to Tokyo.
Two-time Olympian Sam Mikulakak had a solid, consistent night until the very end of the last apparatus, the pommel horse, where he fell. Although the fall was minor, Mikulak was worried and thought he lost his chance until they called his name. He finished fourth with a total of 83.550, for a combined 166.750.
Mikulak now has the pedigree of being a three-time Olympian, which says a lot about his longevity and tenacity.
He is also the team’s elder statesman and biggest supporter, a role he’s already taken on. Nobody was louder or more enthusiastic from the sidelines than Mikulak. Expect to see the same zest from him in Tokyo.
If he had any advice to Malone, it would be to downplay the situation and not feel the weight on his shoulders. “Go do what you know, and do it with your own style,” Mikulak said.
The six-time U.S. national all-around champion knows he overcame a lot but found gratitude throughout the day.
"Even though there were mistakes, just being able to see it through, that was everything I needed. Once I was done, it was out of my hands, and I told myself I should be proud about whatever the outcome was."
Alec Yoder, who competed in the parallel bars and the pommel horse, was chosen as the plus one individual spot. Yoder, a former Ohio State gymnast, wasn’t even on the national team earlier this year. Yoder’s pommel horse finesse helped him stand out and stay on the radar as a possible Tokyo medal contender.
Since 2017, Yoder and former Penn State gymnast Steven Nedoroscik have been alternating pommel horse honors. Nedoroscik was the more likely candidate until Thursday, when he fell, scoring a 13.650. Today he scored 14.650, a point more than Thursday, but it was not enough.
"This means the world to me. I don't think it's set in just yet. It feels like everything is a little foggy, but I'm over the moon. I'm so thankful. I worked for this opportunity and I'm excited to keep going," Yoder said.
Yoder has overcome many injuries, including an injury that caused him to miss the 2016 Olympic Trials. Throw in an extra year of preparing and one has to wonder how he handled the pressure knowing that it came down to pommels these last two days.
"Pressure is what you feel when you're unprepared. I don't look at these moments as pressure, I look at them as opportunity. If I'm sitting there overcome by pressure, it means I haven't done my job preparing for this moment. There’s no feeling like it. That’s why you grind every day. If you show up for a moment like this, it is never too big."
Other candidates in the plus one mix were: Gage Dyer of the University of Oklahoma, Donnell Whittenburg of Saltos Gymnastics, and Alex Diab with rings from the University of Illinois. Each athlete put up a tremendous fight.
Cameron Brock, University of Michigan
Brandon Briones, Stanford University
[pAllan Bower], University of Oklahoma
[pAlex Diab], University of Illinois, is the plus one spot with rings.
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