It was poetic justice that high bar was how two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak finally earned an individual word championship medal.
High bar was the apparatus that gave Mikulak several close calls, including fourth-place finishes at the 2013 worlds and at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. He also had a shot at an all-around medal on Friday, sitting in third going into the final rotation, but missed his grip on the high bar and dropped into fifth place. Though still the best result for a U.S. man in the all-around since 2012, Mikulak was still hungry for a medal.
There were no such mistakes on Saturday, as Mikulak got through a clean and impressive routine, only making a slight hop on the landing. His 14.533 was just enough to edge out Croatian Tin Srbic’s 14.500 for third place.
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Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands took gold with a 15.100 for his sixth high bar world medal, and Japan’s Kohei Uchimura was second with 14.800 for his 21st career world medal and fifth on high bar.
Mikulak targeted these world championships as the place where he would finally break his individual world medal drought (he earned team bronze in 2014). He changed his training habits and did everything else he could do to wind up on the podium. High bar was the last event of the competition, and thus Mikulak’s last chance at a medal this time around. In addition to placing fifth in the all-around, he was fourth in parallel bars, pommel horse and team, and seventh on floor.
Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.