Camp is finally over! Training has been pretty intense over the last few days but training with the rest of the national team is always great because you get to see what everybody is doing. It’s very motivating for sure.
I also have good news. I was selected as a member that will compete in Japan in July! I’m very excited about this as I have a lot of family members that live out there. Plus, the site that we are competing at is only about 20 minutes away from where they live!
I’ll be back at the OTC for another camp in June but I’m definitely looking forward to going back home, getting stronger, and gearing up for this next competition.
Also, thanks to all the people at the OTC for always taking care of us while we’re there!
Today was our routine day at camp. We basically split into two teams and started on separate events. Our group started on pommel horse, while the other group started on floor and we switched off. Overall, routines went fairly well. There were some mistakes here and there but for where I am in my training cycle, it went just as I expected. The other guys on the national team seemed to have some struggle but again, they are in a similar stage in their training so everyone is definitely not at 100% right now. It was great to see the fight in each of the guys though.
As for tomorrow, we are going back to any problems we had today. An exciting thing is that part of our afternoon workout tomorrow is we’ll be doing yoga. For any sport, recovery is just as important as training, and apparently yoga is a good way to recover and to relax the muscles. I’m looking forward to it as this will be my first time!
While I’m looking forward to going back and training again at my own gym, it’s been great to see how the rest of the national team members are doing. It’s been motivating to see their progress. Oh, and I’ve also gotta mention that it’s been fun seeing my old friends at the Olympic Training Center. The great thing about the training center is that there are always a bunch of high level athletes that come through so it’s interesting to able to talk to them and learn about their experiences. In fact, I saw Michael Phelps (yes, the swimming legend!) down in the cafeteria yesterday!
Anyway, one more day of camp to go and it’s back to California!
After a long day of traveling, I finally checked into the training center. Pleasant surprise is I’ll be rooming with Kevin Tan. He is a good friend of mine who was also on the Olympic Team last year. I’ve known Kevin for a long time since he is originally from the Bay Area so it’ll be fun to be able to catch up with him.
Another thing I’m excited about is to see how much this place has changed since the last time I was here (the last time may have been a year ago) because they’re always doing renovations. I remember coming here for the first time over 10 years ago and not having a lot of the luxuries we have today. Today, there’s wireless internet all around the complex and a tv with cable and dvd in each of the rooms. They’ve also recently built a recovery center where they have everything from massage therapists to saunas and steam baths…yes they totally pamper the athletes here.
However, the thing I’m looking forward to the most is seeing all the familiar faces as this was my home for two years (2002-2004). Anyway, training starts tomorrow. Better get some rest!
Yup, as I’ve said before, national training camp is this week. I leave tomorrow and will be at the OTC until Sunday. It should be exciting to be able to see the guys on the team and to be able to work with different coaches, but at the same time, I’m loathing going because the timing of it is absolutely terrible…we have final exams coming up at school. However, my professors are understanding so I should be fine as long as I stay on top of my school work.
Anyway, I’m packing a bunch of stuff to take with me to the camp. As always, we get a bunch of USA gear for being on team. However, they totally got some of my sizes wrong and some of the apparel are either way too big or too small. I can probably use my sweatpants as a sleeping bag…Hooray (being sarcastic of course). Oh well, I guess I’ll need to call USA Gymnastics and have them send me new ones or at least have them hem the bottom. We’ll see…
Just wanted to wish the US guys that are competing at the World Cup meet in Moscow “good luck.” The guys that are competing are Guillermo Alvarez, Raj Bhavsar, Chris Brooks, and my Stanford teammate, David Sender. Dave will be competing on rings and vault, which should be exciting considering he is a beast on those two events. He’s also upped his start value on rings since the beginning of the year. For the rest of the national team members, we are meeting up later this week at the Olympic Training Center for a training camp.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with World Cup meets, several of them are held each year in various locations around the world. There is no team or all-around competition at World Cups. Instead athletes compete for individual event titles, meaning gymnasts will compete on the events that they are strong at.
Gymnasts also acquire points depending on how they finish at each World Cup competition (gymnasts can also accumulate points from World Championships and the Olympics). Then, at the end of an Olympic cycle (usually a couple of months after the Olympics), all the points are tallied up and the top 10 finishers in points will compete at the World Cup Final. However, from what I hear, the FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) has said that they will no longer hold the Final…for what reason I’m not too sure. Either way, World Cup meets are good opportunities to get your name out in the international scene and to compete against World and Olympic medalists.
The down side to World Cups are they are the longest competition ever because so many countries enter the competition. I remember going to one in Qatar last year and being at the gym for over 9 hours. I feel like I was half asleep by my last routine on high bar.
Anyway, good luck to all the guys competing. Go USA!
So unfortunately, I think I got a little sick yesterday. With school, gym, and work being so busy, I’m sure my immune system was a little down. To tell the truth, I can’t tell if I’m really sick because the stuffy nose can be due to allergies and the soreness of my body can be attributed to how hard workouts have been the last few days. Either way, I used today to sleep most of it off and am feeling much better.
On a good note, I went out with a few friends to go watch Star Trek! I’ve gotta say, even though I was never a Star Trek fan, the movie was action-packed and super entertaining. With today being an off-day from gym, it was also nice to just sit around and be lazy.
I should also mention that we (Stanford Gymnastics team) had our annual end of the year picnic yesterday. We do this each year to celebrate the success and the end of the collegiate season. It was definitely a fun time. The coaches also hands out the superlative awards during the picnic. I ended up with the “MVP” and the “Stanford Award”, Nick got the “Most Improved,” and Greg got the “Most Inspirational”. The other two categories were “Most Innovative” and “Hardest Worker”, and they went to Alex and Abhi. Congrats to all!
While only some of us got the award, I need to say that the success we had at this year’s NCAA was due to everyone’s hard work. With my NCAA eligibility used up, it’ll be exciting to be on the spectator side and see how the guys do at next year’s championship. With summer training coming up, it’s time to step up and get strong. Let’s get it Stanford!
Today, my teammates and I participated in the annual Youth Olympics that’s hosted by Stanford. The event allows varsity team members to get together and give back to the community by reaching out to underprivileged kids in the areas around our school. We do this by allowing the kids to go around campus to try out all the different sports that we have to offer. Of course, my teammates and I were in charge of gymnastics.
Even though most of the kids had never tried gymnastics before, I was rather amazed by how much natural talent some of them had. One kid was able to rebound really high out of his round-off even though it was his first time trying! There were some scary moments too though as some of them are absolutely fearless and are willing to try just about anything. While the objective of the Youth Olympics is to inspire hope and motivation to these kids, I thought it awesome to see how much fun they were having because it reminded me of my younger days and the real reason why I do gymnastics, which is to have fun. Thanks kids!
I have a feeling that this will be the title to a lot of my future blog posts! Ok, I take that back…I’m sure that I’ll be using this title many times! We have a banner in the gym that reads this, and it is something that our coach tells us all the time. However, it’s totally true…training is never easy and we need to push through the difficult practices in order to get stronger. I especially need to remind myself of this as I go through the specific training phase that I’m in right now. Even though I’ve been keeping in shape after finishing NCAAs, I did take a bit of break from doing routines (one month), and wow, I can’t believe how quickly your endurance goes. The particular phase I’m going through is focused on getting back in routine shape and I must say, it’s not a fun time (I think a lot of gymnasts will agree to this).
With our current code of points (rule for gymnastics) we are required to put together 10 high level skills in sequence for each routine, which means we need a lot of endurance in order to finish our sets strong. Hence, the last couple of days have been focused on getting this endurance back. Better start now though! High altitude training at the Olympic Training Center (the training center is in Colorado) is right around the corner!
Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I competed with my team at NCAAs! I must admit, this year’s NCAAs was the most exciting meet that I’ve ever competed in! Collegiate meets are definitely on a very different level in terms of energy and the amount of school spirit that fills the arena. It’s also an awesome feeling to be able to compete with the guys that you train with day in and day out. However, what made this competition even better was that we won! This was our first national title in 14 years so we were definitely thrilled about coming out as champions. It was also a great way to finish off my collegiate career.
This is how my teammate, Nick, summed up our NCAA experience on his Facebook:
Our team on Friday night consisted of incredibly well seasoned NCAA competitors. Each man’s performance was a reflection of the mental and physical preparation we worked so hard all year to achieve.
A great deal of credit must go to the legacy of fantastic gymnasts competing for Stanford before I even came to this university. Gymnasts like David Sender, Dylan Carney, Eli Alcaraz, Chris Harper, Brice Rolston, David Durante…these guys and others set a high standard for our men’s gymnastics program, and without their continual support this championship would not have been possible. Much of my joy comes from knowing that we made them proud this weekend.
The final rotation at NCAA championships on Friday was the most emotional moment of my life, and I’m sure a good number of my teammates feel the same way. After doing my part on rings, I stepped back into our team’s corral and experienced something I’d never felt before. At that moment each man on our squad was channeling all of his emotions, every single ounce of positive energy he had, into the next man stepping up to perform on the rings. It’s something I won’t try to describe, but that I can feel again and again each time I think of that final rotation. Our competition culminated with amazing routines by our captains, Sho and Bryant.
After Bryant landed his dismount, our emotional outbursts turned into nervous anticipation as we waited to see the final results. The Oklahoma vault team huddled together, knowing they would need a big performance to catch up.
Just then Eli, Chris, and Dave yelled out to us from the audience: “YOU DID IT!” I turned around to see Sho tearing up. That moment I will remember forever.
While I was able to relax for a couple of weeks after NCAAs, I realize that it’s time to get back to the grind. With NCAA competitions now over, my focus has switched to competing internationally as a member of the US National Team. Next week, I leave for a training camp at the US Olympic Training Center. It’ll be an important camp because the five-man team that will represent the US at a competition in Japan will be decided then. The Japan Cup, as it is called, will be held in July, and 6 of the 8 teams that competed at the Olympics last year will participate. This will make the Japan Cup an exciting competition for sure!
There is lots to do in the gym but I’m excited for the next step!