Sam Mikulak poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympics shoot on Nov. 19, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif.
Sam Mikulak got started in gymnastics when he was just 2 years old, because his parents, Steve and Tina, had been gymnasts. He also played other sports, such as baseball, basketball and soccer, but gymnastics became his career.
“Out of all those sports, gymnastics was my favorite,’’ he said. “I definitely made that decision (to be a gymnast) at a young age. I knew myself best then, and I’m glad this is where I ended up.’’
Now 27, Mikulak is the country’s preeminent male gymnast, having won a modern record six U.S. all-around titles since 2013 and competed in two Olympic Games. A quest for a seventh U.S. all-around title and third Olympic Games will have to wait until next summer, however, after COVID-19 forced the cancelation of the 2020 domestic championships and the postponement of the Tokyo Games until 2021.
“I’m hoping the seventh one is going to be the biggest one,’’ he said.
Like other Team USA athletes across all sports, Mikulak has had to alter his plans for 2020 in a big way. It’s been an adjustment, he said, but he’s making the best of it.
A native of Southern California and former NCAA champion at Michigan, Mikulak is now based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he trains with other elite men at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center. With that facility shut down, however, he’s been working out at a fitness center 20 minutes away.
“It’s a little club gym, and I’m super thankful to be going there, of course,” he said.
There are challenges, though. Notably, Mikulak said their training slots are typically from 8-10 a.m.
“It’s hard to mentally wake up at that time for some high-level gymnastics,” he said. “But luckily we haven’t been grinding out routines. It’s just about maintaining certain levels of fitness and making sure of every little bit of my body is prepared for getting back into the training center.’’
That return to the USOPTC could come as soon as this week.
“Hopefully, I can go back to training starting Friday,” said Mikulak, adding he had just been tested to make sure he doesn’t have COVID-19.