Inside Gymnastics Perspective: Realizing an Olympic Dream – Why Mentoring Matters

Inside Gymnastics Perspective: Realizing an Olympic Dream – Why Mentoring Matters

Inside Gymnastics is on the scene in Minneapolis bringing you all the action! Make sure you’re following our social media pages (TwitterFacebookInstagram & Threads) for news and highlights throughout the week.

For the full Schedule, click here!

TV Broadcasts

Times are ET

  • Thursday, June 27 – Men’s Day 1 – USA Network, Peacock 6:30-9 p.m.
  • Friday, June 28 – Women’s Day 1 – Peacock 7:30-8 p.m.; NBC, Peacock 8-10 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 29 – Men’s Day 2 – NBC, Peacock 3-6 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 30 – Women’s Day 2 – Peacock 8-8:30 p.m.; NBC, Peacock 8:30-11 p.m.

The four-day U.S. Olympic Team Trials will serve as the final U.S. stop on the path to Paris! The 2024 men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics teams for the Olympic Games will be named at the conclusion of the Trials. The event will be one part of Gymnastics City USA 2024, the Trials being held in conjunction with the 2024 USA Gymnastics Championships, featuring rhythmic gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics, and trampoline & tumbling; the USAG National Congress and Trade Show; and the USA Gymnastics for All National Championships & Gymfest. All U.S. gymnasts going to the Olympics, in all gymnastics disciplines, will be recognized by Sunday, June 30.

For our Men’s Preview, click here!

Why Mentoring Matters to an Olympic Dream  – Team USA Men Weigh In

By Gina Pongetti, MPT, for Inside Gymnastics

In the world of professional sports, a solid, ethical and respectful mentor can be as difficult to find as a new favorite pair of jeans. You search and search, think they may fit you, try them on for size, and then they just don’t turn out to be what you needed. On the other hand, there’s still that perfect pair out there and when they fit, it feels like the best day of your life.

Much like other sports, gymnastics ebbs and flows when it comes to the longevity of athletes, whereas sports such as swimming and track and field have made multi-year participants commonplace. Staying in the water as one ages was just a thing! In gymnastics, it’s finally considered commonplace, albeit still extraordinary, to stay in top form more than one quad.

This week in Minneapolis, we’re seeing Simone Biles in her third Olympic bid. Suni Lee, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, along with Kayla DiCello and Leanne Wong (who were alternates in Tokyo) are all making their second. And the world just watched eight-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina make her ninth attempt, and then mention LA 2028 was part of her new plan after she just missed out on the Paris cut.

The longer you are around, the more credibility you should gain as a mentor not only for young athletes just starting out on their journey, but also for those peer athletes looking for advice. 

Through the process of competing and qualifying for the Olympics, it can be daunting to balance the opportunities presented by increasing endorsements, advertising, and appearances. The gymnasts get to finally be in front of their fans at less than a dozen elite competitions a year giving the opportunity to show their personality and interact with wide-eyed children with big dreams. Unlike baseball where there are 160+ chances, some Elites compete live on home soil only a handful of times. Having the right mentor can help turn dreams into reality. Or at least, offer an athlete one more competitive edge in a sport as unpredictable as gymnastics. 

Paul Juda, who finished sixth in the All-Around at the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Championships in Fort Worth, and who is striving to make his first Olympic team this week, is both a mentee and a mentor at this stage in his career. Having been successful on the NCAA and international stage simultaneously, he’s taking this welcome responsibility with grace, and remembers well what it was alike to be that young kid screaming in the stands watching his heroes. 

“I was there in their shoes,” Juda said following Fort Worth. “I just do my best to uphold who I would have wanted to see, who I would have wanted to be.”

Juda’s opinion is that it truly is a calling with accountability, stating “You know, it’s a duty that we all share. We’ve got these younger generations of kids, not just gymnasts, but kids in general, to uphold and create the next generation of amazing humans. So, yeah, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

In years past, Juda had some great examples to follow. His mentor? Three-time Olympian Sam Mikulak, now a head coach at EVO Gymnastics.

“I remember the very day that I told him, ‘Hey, I’m following in your footsteps.’ And he said, ‘You’re making your own.’  And that was like, a huge thing to me, to hear that from him.”

After the second night of competition at Championships, when the athletes can relax from their focused bubble a bit, 2020 Olympian Yul Moldauer was seen smiling, high-fiving and signing whatever he could for his young fans. Posing with a child with a sign the young fan had colored in himself, Moldauer proudly took pictures even after a long week.

Does the stress get to Moldauer? The whole idea of competing, the pressure of the last 30 days before the team is announced? Of course. But he knows how to channel it.

“It’s not mental stress, it’s more of a mental excitement,” Moldauer explained. “I mean, okay, yes, there’s stress, but it’s a good stress. This is what being an athlete is all about, is taking that stress, using it to excite you and owning the moment. At the end of the day, there are little kids in the stands that want to be here in this position someday, and you can’t take it for granted. So you’ve got to look at every single meet as a blessing and really just go after it and be happy.

“I mean, these fans are awesome. Everyone who made a sign, I just want to say thank you. And everyone that came out and made this day, too, it was exciting. Once we got the first event going and got the crowd into it, I feel like this place was more of a demonstration than a competition. So the fans are great. I just hope we keep packing more people in it.”

Frederick Richard, who like Juda, is chasing his first Olympic dream, is possibly the smile and energy that this Olympic team needs. Though he, himself, still thrives on the veteran camaraderie, he’s already excited to help those rising – those looking up to him. Beaming bright after nearly every routine, smiling a mile wide in even the most casual conversations, Richard practices gratitude and gratefulness with every turn. His gymnastics speaks for himself – he trusts the process. Because his preparation is on point, he allows himself to enjoy all of it.

“I’m just having fun with it,” he said. “I mean, look at all these kids looking up to us right now, holding signs. It’s fun! And I’m glad I get to finally live my younger self’s dream right now and be in this process.”

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