Samuel Mikulak celebrates after he competes on High Bars during the Men's Team Final on Day 6 of FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships on Oct. 09, 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany.
With the Olympics on hold, gymnast Sam Mikulak made sure 2020 included another milestone memory.
At a picturesque lookout point on California’s Catalina Island, the two-time Olympian and six-time U.S. all-around champ dropped to a knee and presented an engagement ring to longtime girlfriend Mia Atkins.
“Engaged to my best friend!” he captioned an Instagram post. “You are the love of my life and forever isn’t long enough!! 😘💍👫”
Added Atkins in her own post: “Can’t wait to spend forever with my person.”
In pictures taken of the proposal, Atkins had to cover her face in disbelief as the smiling Mikulak presented the ring with a backdrop of rugged hills and sky blue water. The couple confirmed in a subsequent post their they shared their first meal as husband-and-wife-to-be at — where else? — In-N-Out Burger.
Atkins, who grew up in Illinois and went to college in Arizona, now works as a TV host in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the couple lives. Mikulak, a native of Southern California, began training at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center following an esteemed collegiate career at Michigan.
In an alternate universe, Mikulak was supposed to be spending this week deep in preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials had been scheduled for June 25-28, with the Tokyo Games beginning July 24, but both have been postponed one year due to COVID-19.
Barring injury, Mikulak, who turns 28 in October, is a heavy favorite to make the four-person U.S. team.
Mikulak broke onto the U.S. gymnastics scene in 2012, when he came back from two broken ankles to make that year’s Olympic team while still in college. Ever since, he’s been practically unbeatable on home soil. Since 2013, he’s won every U.S. all-around title except one, and that was because he didn't compete across all six events while recovering from injury in 2017.
Internationally, Mikulak won a team bronze medal at the 2014 world championships, and after some near-misses finally won his first individual medal when he took third in the high bar at the 2018 world championships.
In interviews at the time, Mikulak credited Atkins and their new dog, a pit bull terrier named Marshall, with bringing more balance into his life and improving his training.
“In stressful times, it’s something that I can look towards and gives me a little more energy and a little more confidence and just makes me a little happier,” he told TeamUSA.org at the 2018 national championships.
Mikulak finished seventh in the all-around at the Rio Games in 2016 and was just off the podium in fourth place in high bar.