Stephen Nedoroscik competes in the Men's Pommel Horse Final during the FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships on Oct. 23, 2021 in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan.
Stephen Nedoroscik was already a recognizable figure in the men’s gymnastics world because of the trademark goggles he wears in competition.
Now he’ll be recognized for something else: a world title, and the first of its kind for the U.S. at that.
The 22-year-old Penn State standout from Worcester, Massachusetts, earned the first world championship title by a U.S. athlete on the pommel horse Saturday in Kitakyushu, Japan.
Although the apparatus has always been his speciality, this is his first time competing in the world championships. He qualified in second place for the event final with a score of 15.366, and then on Saturday, his score of 15.266 put him more than three-tenths of a point ahead of China’s Weng Hao and Japan’s Kaya Kazuma, who tied for second at 14.900. Teammate Alec Yoder of Indianapolis, who beat Nedoroscik out for the specialist spot on the Olympic men’s team this summer, finished fifth at 14.766.
In addition to making history as the first American to win a world title on pommel horse, Nedoroscik is just the third to even medal at the world championships. Kurt Thomas won silver in 1979 and Alexander Artemev took bronze in 2006.
Nedoroscik said before the world championships that he planned to try to make the 2024 Olympic Team, and winning his first world title three years out is certainly a good start.
As for the goggles?
Nedoroscik said it started with a gag gift from a Penn State teammate that was part of a Secret Santa exchange. What started as a goof became a thing after he wore them in competition for the first time and hit a tough routine twice in a row. “Before I knew it, it kind of became an image of mine,” he told TeamUSA.org in an interview this year.
The Artistic Gymnastics World Championships concludes Sunday with Brody Malone and Yul Moldauer competing in the horizontal bar and parallel bars finals, respectively, and world all-around silver medalist Leanne Wong and bronze medalist Kayla DiCello both competing in the balance beam and floor exercise finals.