The US Olympic trials for men’s gymnastics, which begins on Thursday, mark the end of one generation and, perhaps, the start of another.
Sam mikulak, a record six-time US all-around champion, competes in his last Olympic trials and possibly the last national competition of his career. Mikulak, who plans to retire later this year, is the only man on the pitch with Olympic experience.
From Rio, two other men have emerged to challenge Mikulak. Premiere in 2017, Yul Moldauer, who won that American all-around title when Mikulak was injured, and then a bronze at the world championships in floor exercises later that year.
Then, three weeks ago, Stanford’s rise in rank Brody Malone won the all-around at his first senior national championships. He was the first male gymnast to accomplish this feat in over 35 years.
The four-man US Olympic team, plus a fifth for the individual events only, will be named after the second day of competition on Saturday. The all-around champion wins a place. The second, too, provided he finishes in the top three on three of the six apparatus.
The others are chosen by a committee looking to build a squad to close the gap with Olympic medal favorites Russia, China and Japan.
A look at 10 contenders …
Six-time United States all-around champion
Had the same folder as Simone BilÃ¨s in the all-around at the US championships until three weeks ago, when he finished third. Mikulak, on his first meeting since March 2020, was a rusty seventh on day one of the national championships. There were concerns that his status for the Olympic team was more than a lock. But then he got the best score on the second day, and everything went well. Mikulak suffered elbow and wrist injuries during the pandemic and limited his abilities, saying he couldn’t get past what he was in previous years. That should still be enough to make this team. He can be competitive internationally on high bar, where he won world bronze in 2018. At 28, the end is near. He is trying to become the first American gymnast to compete in three Olympics since Blaine wilson in 2004.
United States All-Around Champion 2017
Bronze medalist at the 2017 World Floor Exercise Championships
All-around silver medalist at the last three national championships. Moldauer has also faced injuries in this Olympic cycle, but has been the most consistent American throughout. Reliability is key as the list of Olympic team events has grown from five to four, with more emphasis on all-rounders. Born in South Korea, adopted as a baby. He learned from the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Sacha Artemev as a kid in Colorado. Then enrolled in the University of Oklahoma and was guided by Marc williams, the American Gymnastics Hall of Fame that has coached one man in each of the last four Olympics.
United States All-Around Champion 2021
Two-time NCAA All-Around Champion
Participated in a rodeo – team roping, to be precise – when I was a kid in Summerville, Georgia, over four square miles. Then flourished as a gymnast at Stanford (13 square miles), while still enjoying frog concerts on trips back home. Malone won the U.S. Junior All-Around in 2017, then missed the Nationals in 2018 (transition to college) and 2019 (competed in the Pan Am Games). He still proved himself in major competitions, becoming the third freshman to win an NCAA men’s all-around after Mikulak and Moldauer. On Day 2 of the Nationals earlier this month, competing for a lead, he folded but didn’t break, posting the second best score to win with a comfortable 2.75 points overall.
Member of the 2019 World Championships team
Triple NCAA All-Around Silver Medalist
A favorite to be part of the Olympic team at the start of the year. The rise of Malone complicates matters. Wiskus was ninth at the nationals, but was second in 11th of 12 events before falling off the high bar three times. At the 2019 Worlds, where the team event size was five, he was the fourth most used American gymnast after Mikulak, Moldauer and Akash Modi.
Olympic substitute 2016
Twice World Championship Team Member
He tried to form his first Olympic team at 26. Only Mikulak and Moldauer competed in more events in the team final of the world championships in 2018 and 2019. Since 2016, he has placed between third and sixth in the all-around at all US championships. Modi was sixth at the nationals three weeks ago, so he needs a strong performance in the trials.
Fourth place in the 2021 U.S. All-Around
2021 NCAA All-Around Bronze Medalist
From Robin to Malone’s Batman this year, both as a Stanford teammate and as a revelation at the national championships. Tied for second on day one of the national championships and then for fourth as Mikulak and Moldauer improved significantly on day two. Always had a full point cushion in fifth place Allan bower. If the national championships are the most important meeting so far in the eyes of the committee for the four places in the team events, then Briones is in the game.
Alternate World Championships in 2018, 2019
All-around silver medalist of the United States in 2017
Little misses each of the last three world teams, but the only man other than Mikulak, Moldauer and Malone to finish in the top two in the national all-around competition of this Olympic cycle. In the middle of a medical school admission process and planning to get married in December.
2021 United States Pommel Horse Champion
Double NCAA Pommel Horse Champion
The predominant idea is that the only Olympic place for the individual events will go to an event specialist, and probably to the pommel horse. Nedoroscik, who competes in rec specs, was in contention to earn an Olympic berth for himself via the Apparatus World Cup series in early 2020, but was wracked by the pandemic which wreaked havoc with the last qualifying events. The Penn State electrical engineering graduate could be in the driver’s seat after winning his first national pommel title.
Member of the 2018 World Championships team
United States silver medalist on pommel horse 2021
Finished a meager 0.15 behind Nedoroscik at national pommel horse championships, combining scores from two days. Their one-on-one battle, potentially for that individual Olympic spot, could prove to be the most compelling men’s story in Olympic trials. After winning the U.S. pommel horse title in 2018 and making the world team, he fell off the horse at the 2019 nationals on day one and then retired due to an injury to the shoulder. Nedoroscik has since gained momentum, but Yoder was right with him at the national championships.
Double world medalist
Olympic substitute 2016
Only man at the Olympic trials other than Mikulak who owns multiple medals at the world championships, despite being from the previous Olympic cycle (2014 and 2015). In 2016, Whittenburg finished fourth in the all-around combining scores from the national championships and Olympic trials, but left out the five-man squad. Wasn’t called when Jean Orozco was not injured either. If Whittenburg can show off the form of the jump that won him a bronze at the 2015 world championships, he may be in contention for the individual Olympic spot.
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