Corona del Mar resident Sam Mikulak became the first American man in 28 years to win the Pan American Games gold medal in the individual all-around gymnastics competition.
Mikulak scored 89.650, .050 ahead of Cuba’s Manrique Larduet, for his second gold medal of the Games, which are being held in Toronto. He had helped lead the Americans to the gold in the team competition, which concluded Saturday.
“I’m just trying to enjoy the moment,” Mikulak said. “I take it one skill at a time, one routine at a time, one minute at a time and eventually, you’re sitting here with the gold.”
Mikulak entered the final rotation — the high bar — in the lead. When Mikulak faltered on his landing and Larduet stuck his, the Corona del Mar High School graduate was unsure which medal he would claim.
“I thought he had won it for sure,” Mikulak said. “That’s the performance I wanted to have.”
After taking the lead on floor Tuesday, Mikulak came off pommel horse early in his routine at the Toronto Coliseum, eventually remounting and finishing with a triple Russian and solid handstand dismount to find himself in second place.
“It wasn’t the perfect performance I would have asked for, but I was able to overcome a lot of adversity on the pommel horse and I’m very happy about that,” Mikulak said.
“I’ve done that routine so many times. It’s probably my most confident event out of all those routines, so as soon as I stopped, I just couldn’t believe it.”
Mikulak then took the rings where, with two Maltese variations and a double-double dismount, he was able to reclaim the lead.
The 22-year-old Mikulak was fifth in the vault and a member of the U.S. team that finished fifth at the London Olympics.
—City News Service