Justin Spring won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games before coaching men's gymnastics at the University of Illinois.
University of Illinois men’s gymnastics coach, Justin Spring, has had his share of high-pressure moments in life. And he’s one of the lucky ones who thrives in them.
There was the time he defended his NCAA parallel bars crown in 2006, winning back-to back championships while adding on a title in the high bar.
Or the time at the 2008 U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Olympic Team Trials where he attempted a floor routine for the first time in two-and-a-half months to solidify his spot on the team despite an ankle injury. Or when he was part of a team of rookies who pulled off the improbable bronze medal win at the 2008 Olympic Games.
“You see some guys thrive under it like I did,” he said. “For me, I felt like my team had my back; I was excited to be a part of it.”
That’s the mindset that he said he learned while he was a student-athlete at the University of Illinois, and what he’s helped further engrain into the men’s gymnastics program for the past 11 seasons as head coach – embrace the pressure and deliver.
“My college experience, competing for my team, gave me the skills,” Spring said. “Purely that competition melting pot – you learn to be resilient and being able to compete for a team under all circumstances.”
It’s a program that Spring has spent half of his life with and one he credits much of his Olympic Team success.
“For my one and done Olympic experience, to compete my best – and I did – I had one of my best meets at the Olympic Games; I can say absolutely that was because of my competitive experience in college athletics.”