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Sam Mikulak Becomes First U.S. Man To Win All-Around Pan Ams Gold In 28 Years

By Sarah Higgins | July 13, 2015, 7:32 p.m. (ET)

Sam Mikulak reacts after finishing on the rings during the men's all-around final at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games on July 13, 2015 in Toronto.

TORONTO -- One history-making night of gymnastics wasn’t enough for Sam Mikulak at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

Two days after he and the rest of Team USA became the first U.S. men’s team to win the Pan Ams team title in 20 years, Mikulak clinched the men’s individual all-around title Monday.

The 22-year-old gymnast from Newport Beach, California, became the first U.S. man to win the individual all-around crown in 28 years.

Mikulak scored 89.650 in the all-around, just .050 ahead of Cuba’s Manrique Larduet. Jossimar Calvo Moreno of Colombia took the bronze with 89.400. Team USA’s Donnell Whittenburg finished sixth.

After taking the lead on floor, Mikulak came off pommel horse early in his routine, eventually remounting and finishing with a triple Russian and solid handstand dismount to find himself in second place.

“It wasn’t the perfect performance I would have asked for, but I was able to overcome a lot of adversity on the pommel horse and I’m very happy about that,” the 2012 Olympian said.

“I’ve done that routine so many times,” Mikulak said. “It’s probably my most confident event out of all those routines, so as soon as I stopped, I just couldn’t believe it.”

He then took the rings where, with two Maltese variations and a double-double dismount, he was able to reclaim the lead.

Watch the Pan American Games on the networks of ESPN.
Watch the Pan American Games on the networks of ESPN.

Heading into the final rotation – the high bar – would make all the difference for Team USA. Mikulak was in first place with 74.850 points with Larduet close behind, while Whittenburg was tied for third.

Whittenburg slipped off the bar, before regaining his composure and finishing his routine. “I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I just needed to sit there for a little bit and get my wits together. I told myself, I can’t stop and I have to keep going no matter what.”

When Mikulak faltered on his landing and Larduet stuck his, the American was unsure which medal he would claim.

“I thought he had won it for sure,” Mikulak said. “That’s the performance I wanted to have.”

When the scores came in, Mikulak edged out Larduet and had secured his second gold of the Games by a slim 0.50 points.

“I’m just trying to enjoy the moment,” Mikulak said. “I take it one skill at a time, one routine at a time, one minute at a time, and eventually, you’re sitting here with the gold.”

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