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Sam Mikurak will compete in his third Olympics


ST. Louis — After nearly a decade as America’s top male gymnast, Sammikurak said he was immediately relieved when he created his third Olympic team on Saturday.

“Oh my god, I actually did it,” he later said, explaining the joy of attacking him when he heard his name, one of the gymnasts heading for the Tokyo Olympics.

Having won six national championships at all-round events a year ago, he never imagined he would join fellow Americans Brody Malone, Yurumoldauer, Shane Wiscus and Alec Yoder on this year’s Olympic team. did.

Mr. Micrak, from the Newport Coast, California, said he was depressed and suffering from mental health problems when the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. Due to a dramatic schedule change, he lost his position in the world and panicked. In particular, there was no gymnastics to give a sense of purpose.

With the help of mental health professionals such as therapists and sport psychologists, 28-year-old Micrak said he finally realized that his self-esteem was not tied to athletic performance. Perfection is what gymnastics demands, but his happiness also sank in that he did not depend on perfection. That perception pushed him back to the top of his sport.

“I’m very happy to be here,” he added, adding that he’s no longer obsessed with winning. “I think that was a big change.”

He said the era of Sammikurak was almost over. He retired later this year, admitting that Malone is not only the future of sports, but the present. Malone’s performance over the past few months has given the idea credibility. At that time, 21-year-old Malone from Summerville, Georgia won the second NCAA National Championship with Stanford University. He also won the US Championships and finished first on both days of the Olympics.

Malone won the trial on Saturday ahead of second-placed Yurumoldauer, 24, in Alvada, Colorado, and Shane Wiscus, 22, in Spring Park, Minnesota, third. Malone and Moldauer have won two guaranteed spots for the Olympic team, and Wiskus and Micrak have been selected by the US Gymnastics Commission.

The 24-year-old Indianapolis Alec Yoder was also selected to compete in an additional Olympic spot won by the United States in his performance at the Senior Pan American Championship earlier this month. He will be an event specialist for pommel horses and will not participate in team events.

The main four-person team has a mix of personality and experience. Mikuraku is a veteran who practices mindfulness and daily gratitude. Malone is a quiet newcomer who can’t fly. Moldauer is a fiery voice cheerleader. Wiskus is a microcosm of resilience.

Brett McClure, the men’s high-performance team coordinator, called Malone a “stud” after the trial took place.

“He seemed unwavering,” he said of Malone. He turned from device to device and showed little emotion when he dominated the Olympic trial.

But Moldauer is not stoic. His positive energy can’t be suppressed — he’s known for doing breakdancing lessons at parties — and McClure said he appreciated how it motivated gymnasts around him. Told.

At the trial, Moldauer raised his arms, danced, shouted at the crowd, and finished all the events as if he had won a gold medal.

“I’m always trying to bring in hype,” he said. “I want my team to feel the energy to make them better.”

For Wiskus, creating an Olympic team has shown how he can bounce off even the most difficult adversities. He cried because he was so overwhelmed when he heard his name called to join the team.

He said he couldn’t tell the story of what he had recently experienced, even if he tried. His season at the University of Minnesota was shortened last year, forcing him to practice gymnastics in his yard and in a local gym. Finally returning to the Minnesota campus, the university cut his men’s gymnastics program. It’s been around for 118 years and managed to produce outstanding gymnasts like Wiskus, even though the gym didn’t have enough space for a full-sized gym floor.

Then, in this month’s nation, Wiskus fell off the horizontal bar three times — anxiously calming the crowd — before he finally finished his routine. He has returned with a strong performance in court to prove that the US team can trust him.

“I’ve just passed through Ringer,” Wiskus said. “I told myself I’ve done enough. I’m ready to show what I can do.”

Together, the team’s goal is to win the Olympic Gymnastics Medal for US Men for the first time in 13 years. The team’s last podium finish at the Olympics was when they won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. McClure, who helped the US men’s team win the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, said it would not be easy to break the streak this year.

He said the US team was particularly hurt by the pandemic as the closure closed colleges across the country and many national team athletes were trained at the colleges.

“Looking at China, Russia and Japan, they quickly bubbling and were able to stay together and continue training, but we couldn’t,” McClure said. “It was hard.”

However, the team can ask Micrak for advice on how to deal with the pressure of the Olympics and at least find a way to get the best performance. He has participated in two Olympics and both men’s teams finished fifth in the team tournament. In 2012, Micrak finished fifth in the vault. In 2016 he was fourth on the horizontal bar.

His teammates said he wanted to end his career with “some hardware,” Moldauer said, citing one or two Olympic medals. And they want to help him do that.

Mr. Micrak said he warned against internalizing the expectations of others when considering what advice to share with his teammates, who are Olympic athletes for the first time. Just do the gymnastics yourself, don’t put pressure on yourself.

“I wish someone had said I That’s it, “he said.

Sam Mikurak will compete in his third Olympics

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