Current NCAA all-around champion Sam Mikulak, now a sophomore at the University of Michigan, has been on the American roster to compete at the upcoming Olympic Test Event to be held in London January 10-18, along with 2010 world team member Chris Brooks. He’s been posting some very impressive videos over the last few months, which indicate that he is not only fully recovered from his two broken ankles he suffered at the Puerto Rico Cup last August, but that he has improved on essentially all six events.
His most recent YouTube post yesterday shows him training tumbling passes and full routines on the other five events, but also includes a concerning statement suggesting he may have dropped out of the Olympic Test Event due to a wrist injury. This is quite confusing, considering that not only does he look healthy and better than ever in this video (including an excellent full pommel horse routine), but the competition roster also still includes his name.
Does Sam Mikulak have a chance for the Olympic team this summer? I listed him as just outside by “Top 12 For 2012” list, which I posted just a couple of days ago. However, that may be changing very soon based on what I saw in this video. Although he still has a lot to prove, his pommel horse has improved significantly and could potentially separate him from other floor and vault powerhouses like Jake Dalton, Steve Legendre, and Paul Ruggeri. Could Mikulak be viewed as America’s only floor and vault specialist who can also swing good pommel horse? Could his pommel horse get good enough to potentially be used in place of Alex Naddour’s? His pommel horse is not to Naddour’s level yet, but it certainly appears to be one of the better backups America has. Rings will be an issue for Mikulak, however, as he is not strong enough on this event to be used by Team USA, whereas Dalton, Legendre, and maybe even Alex Naddour could possibly be used in the 3rd spot if necessary (Dalton was used on rings at the 2011 worlds). Team USA would certainly need three other ringsmen if Mikulak were to be considered for the 5-man team.
Sam Mikulak Training 1/1/12
I love his straddled front to underswing on parallel bars (similar to the skill we saw Raj Bhavsar do out of a Tippelt in 2009), and I also love the two new unique skills he showed after the routine. Overall he has improved his form over last year and has a lighter and more fluid look to his gymnastics.
Here’s a look at a similar training session from just a month prior, where he does show a full floor routine:
Sam Mikulak Training 12/2/11
I would be quite disappointed if he does drop out of the Test Event because this is about the biggest opportunity he could have ever hoped for. His selection as one of America’s two representatives at this competition is a HUGE statement about where he stands and what the selection committee is wanting to see from him at the start of this Olympic year. Dropping out when he appears to be quite healthy would be throwing away a potentially life-changing opportunity and would not be wise with regards to his Olympic chances, in my opinion.
Hopefully we’ll find out in the next couple of days whether Mikulak will be competing in London next week. We’ll keep you posted as soon as this information becomes available.