The U.S. Olympic men’s gymnastics team was named following two days of competition at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials in St. Louis, Missouri, earlier today, with Brody Malone, Yul Moldauer, Sam Mikulak, and Shane Wiskus filling the four team spots, while Alec Yoder will compete as an individual athlete.
The team was the obvious choice, as Malone, Moldauer, and Mikulak were the top three at national championships two weeks ago, where Wiskus only missed out on the podium when his three falls on high bar took him out of the running. But assuming he hit here, he was going to be hard to leave behind, which he confirmed with his third place overall finish today.
Wiskus was only half a point behind Moldauer, who earned one of two automatic berths on the team along with Malone. Wiskus was also high on the selection committee’s list, but high performance director Brett McClure said there was a discussion about whether to take Mikulak or Brandon Briones, who was fifth today, just half a tenth behind Mikulak. In the end, Mikulak won out to reach his third Olympic Games, thanks especially to his much-needed high bar, which will replace Moldauer’s set in the team final.
There was also a tough decision to be made on the individual side. Both Yoder and Alex Diab won their events, becoming the top two choices ahead of the rest of the contenders, including Stephen Nedoroscik for pommels (he was third there with a fall), Gage Dyer for floor and vault (he had the top two-vault average but with scores that wouldn’t be super competitive internationally), and Donnell Whittenburg for floor, rings, and vault (his floor and rings scores weren’t competitive, and though he showed great vault difficulty with a Ri Se Gwang and Dragulescu today, he struggled to hit either).
In the end, the selection committee went with Yoder, due to his high level of difficulty on top of his first-place finish and overall consistency throughout the season. Diab, who has also been consistently scoring well both in his elite and NCAA sets, has only a 6.0 start value, which the committee determined too low to take the spot.
Diab was made a reserve athlete specifically for the individual role, while Briones, Allan Bower, Akash Modi, and Cameron Bock are reserves for the team. All five reserves will travel to Japan along with the team, and the ten athletes will train in Funabashi before the Olympic team heads to the Olympic Village and the reserves head home.
The U.S. women’s team will be named following the second day of competition tomorrow evening.
Article by Lauren Hopkins