Earn a spot at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020?
The first task for the U.S. men’s gymnastics team at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, is complete. Although the men’s qualification round is ongoing, the U.S. finished well enough in its subdivision Monday to ensure an Olympic berth.
China, Japan and Russia qualified for Tokyo at last year’s world championships. The top nine teams in Stuttgart, not including the aforementioned three, join them. The U.S. ranked fourth following the sixth of eight subdivisions, behind Russia, China and Japan, but with six teams remaining the Americans are assured of finishing among the top nine.
Trevor Howard, Sam Mikulak, Akash Modi, Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus make up the U.S. team competing in Stuttgart, though the four athletes who represent Team USA next summer in Tokyo will be determined following the U.S. Olympic Team Trials June 25-28 in St. Louis.
In Tokyo, the American men will be looking for their first Olympic team medal since winning bronze in 2008 in Beijing. Team USA finished fifth in London and Rio and was fourth at the 2018 world championships. The only time the U.S. men won an Olympic team gold medal was in 1984 in Los Angeles.
With less than a year to go before Tokyo, the U.S. men are continuing to establish a new generation around Mikulak, the lone Olympian still competing for the team. Mikulak, who turns 27 on Sunday, competed at the past two Games, and he’s stood above the competition in winning six U.S. all-around titles since 2013. The only time he didn’t win was in 2017, when he was injured and did not compete in all six events.
Moldauer is establishing himself as the clear No. 2, and he's competing in his third world championships this week. Modi, a 2016 Olympic alternate, is competing in his second world championships, while Howard and Wiskus are world championships rookies.
Among the others who could be in the mix for Tokyo include Allan Bower, who is an alternate at the world championships for the third straight year, as well as Marvin Kimble, Colin Van Wicklen, Donnell Whittenburg and Alec Yoder, each of whom has competed at a world championships since the Rio Games.
Before getting to Tokyo, there is more business to take care of in Stuttgart.
The next step for the Americans will be competing in the world championships team final on Wednesday, where they’ll aim to reach the podium for the first time since finishing third in 2014. The men’s all-around final is Friday, followed by individual apparatus finals Saturday and Sunday.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic Movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009, including the gymnastics national championships and Olympic trials since 2011, on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.