Sept. 27, 2013
2013 World Championships Podium Training (YouTube)
Prior to his trek to Antwerp, Belgium, for World Championships, Michigan senior gymnast Sam Mikulak sat down with MGoBlue.com's Scott Kemps for a question-and-answer series. Mikulak is fresh off his U.S. all-around, high bar and parallel bar championship.
How did the Olympics prepare you for the process of getting ready for competition of the magnitude of World Championships?
In the NCAA season there are a lot of duel competitions and having championships, you kind of take a break from competitions for a while and it's just that mediator in between our NCAAs and worlds. It's really good to get that type of competition in there, and then after the Olympics of course, being able to compete at that high of a level of competition transitions me into other high level competitions such as the World Championships. It is very nice to have that experience, and hopefully I can cash in on that and perform even better than I did at the Olympics here at the World Championships.
How has training changed, if at all? Have you tried to upgrade anything heading into Worlds?
The only upgrade was putting in a new skill, a Cassina, on high bar and I got that in before U.S. Championships and it has been very consistent. Other than that, the training schedule has been the same six week curves and pretty much just a lot of routines.
Talk about how you are taking six credits this semester (following NCAA Clearance). How did that come about?
It just offers more time for rehab and treatment that will keep me healthy. There are days where I need to get a little more time in the gym because I am doing a few more events than the other guys around here. I can come in a little earlier, stay a little later. Usually it just takes some stress off, not have to worry too much about the rigors of a full course load while I'm out in Belgium trying to compete.
What are you looking forward to the most about heading out to Belgium?
I'm looking forward to some chocolate, some diamonds, the culture, seeing the sights, and obviously coming home with some hardware for Michigan, as well as the United States.
You mentioned that Olympic champion Paul Hamm was visiting at Newt Loken Training Center earlier last week. What type of advice did he give you?
He said everyone's different, but when it comes down to it, he was in the situation where he was in the last event and he needed to do a stellar routine in order to win, and just how you go about getting into that mindset to perform at your best in the most stressful situation you could possibly be in. He said everyone is different, but for him what worked was just telling himself continuously that he's done this routine so many times -- he's confident, he is ready to go -- and just go out there use the adrenaline and know you're going to hit it, and have no worries or doubts in your mind.
Do you notice a difference with you training for such high level competition compared to everyone else in the gym? Can you tell a difference?
Everyone's working new skills so energy is still high, every time someone does something new, people are shouting and cheering, getting people motivated and amped up to go do the new skills. I might be doing routines, they might be doing new skills, but it's still the same before and after we go and do our skills or routines and its consistent. Everyone is just having a good time, and that's the atmosphere that works best for me.
A couple of weeks ago, the team went to the Diag on campus and performed some exhibitions. What does that mean for the team -- having people see you do world-class skills and sets smack dab in the middle of campus?
I think they all just think it's entertaining and definitely mesmerizing when we are not just doing back flips, they're seeing other things like circles or parallel bar work. It shows that we're just able do more than just back flips and that people can appreciate how difficult gymnastics is. Hopefully that motivates people to come watch us defend our NCAA and Big Ten titles this year and follow what we do as a team in the upcoming season.