The committee that picked the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships had one eye on this year and the other on Tokyo in 2020.
This will be the first major international competition for new national champion Yul Moldauer, Eddie Penev and Marvin Kimble, who were chosen late Saturday along with Olympians Alex Naddour and Sam Mikulak and two-time world medalist Donnell Whittenburg. The world championships are Oct. 2-8 in Montreal.
There is no team competition at this year’s world championships, only individual events. Men’s high performance director Brett McClure said the committee looked at several different scenarios, including taking four all-arounders as a test for the new format for the team competition at the Tokyo Games.
“But do we want to cut ourselves short right now?” McClure said Sunday. “Early in the quad, we want as big a pool to work with as possible. We’re not ready to trim anything down just yet. That’s why we wanted to take an opportunity to get as many guys as we can experience.”
With Mikulak still working his way back after blowing out his Achilles in February, Moldauer will likely be the only one to compete in all-around at worlds. Kimble did the all-around at the P&G Championships, but will likely only do three events at worlds: pommel horse, still rings and high bar.
Kimble was the biggest surprise on the world team. He finished ninth, with major errors on five of his 12 routines. But McClure pointed to Kimble’s hit percentage on high bar, still rings and pommel horse, his three best events.
Kimble was first on high bar and tied for first on still rings. He was fifth on pommel horse after botching his routine in prelims, but his 6.4 start value matches that of Naddour, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist on the event.
“The effort has changed. He’s going all in,” McClure said. “Even though you saw him make mistakes on some of the other events, he chose to continue to compete them. In the past, he could have just pulled out.
“It’s still a long road ahead of us and we’ll see how it goes,” McClure added. “As long as he continues to train as hard as he can and push the envelope, I think he could be a valuable asset to Team USA.”
By Nancy Armour
This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.