Skip to content

Sam Mikulak rallies for repeat P&G Championships title (video)

Aug 24, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT

PITTSBURGH — Sam Mikulak lost his grip and his bag, but never his confidence, and rallied to win his second straight all-around title at the P&G Championships on Sunday.

The spiky-haired gymnast, usually California cool, paced around the Consol Energy Center, from the competition floor to drug testing, late Friday night.

Hours earlier, he fumbled on parallel bars without a proper mixture of honey and chalk to start the P&G Championships. Mikulak, the defending champion, was in 24th place in the all-around after the first of 12 rotations.

He rallied over the next five, leaping to fourth place at the end of the first night of competition. But he was still 2.35 points behind the leader and needing to pass three of his 2012 Olympic teammates for the all-around title Sunday.

He encountered another worry later Friday night, though.

“I lost my [gym] bag,” Mikulak said. “I went back to stretch, and I was like, oh gosh someone took my bag.”

The bag contained his grips and other necessities to rally up the leaderboard in 36 hours. After fruitless calls, he finally found it.

Which was a bigger concern, climbing back from that deficit or tracking down the lost gym bag?

“Definitely finding my bag,” Mikulak said Sunday afternoon, with the benefit of hindsight.

Mikulak never lost faith that he would retain his title. His coach at the University of Michigan, Kurt Golder, reassured him after the frustrating Friday.

“Just make sure [Sunday] you do it one [routine] at a time,” Golder said. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself that you’ve got defend your title or anything.”

“Yeah, I know,” was Mikulak’s what-me-worry response.

So Mikulak went out Sunday and chopped away at 2012 U.S. champion John Orozco’s lead. He was 1.9 behind after parallel bars, scoring 1.9 points higher than Friday. He cut another seven tenths off on high bar with a 15.8 and another .75 on floor exercise (15.65).

With three events to go, he just needed to pick up two tenths per apparatus.

“I don’t know if he was, but between the coaches, we were looking at [the scoreboard],” Golder said. “He’s chipped away half of it after two events. Then it kept chipping away, getting closer and closer. At the end he had to nail his vault.”

He did, landing a Kasamatsu (with a hop) that he’s been performing since he was in high school.

In all, Mikulak scored 92.25 points Sunday after 88.4 on Friday.

“I had one of the greatest days of my life,” said Mikulak, who might also count the day earlier this year when he went bungee jumping from 400 feet high in Europe while training with German veteran Fabian Hambuechen.

Mikulak’s combined score, 180.65, beat Orozco (180.2). Orozco performed a vault Sunday with 1.2 less in difficulty than he did Friday and scored 1.05 fewer points. That’s what did him in.

Another Olympian, Jacob Dalton, finished third (179.85) after leading by 1.05 going into the final rotation. Dalton went on the dreaded pommel horse last and scored a not-surprising 13.1.

Mikulak leads World Championships team; analysis

Mikulak became the first man to win back-to-back U.S. all-around titles since Jonathan Horton in 2009 and 2010.

Golder said he’s never seen Mikulak come through under tougher circumstances, even during a decorated college career with three NCAA all-around titles.

“This was his toughest climb,” Golder said.

Mikulak’s path to this year’s championship was nothing like 2013, when his biggest failure came on the 12th and final event, pommel horse.

“The last thing someone said to him [before pommel horse] was, you could fall two times and still win,” Golder said. “Then he went out there and fell two times. I know it was the nerves that time.”

Mikulak still won by 2.9 points, but then he went to Worlds and struggled again on his final event, high bar, to finish sixth in the all-around.

This year, Golder and Mikulak said they’ve upgraded their start values and have even more difficulty to be added on pommel horse and parallel bars before Worlds in China in six weeks.

Both coach and gymnast mentioned they’re working toward catching Japanese great Kohei Uchimura, the four-time reigning World champion and the Olympic champion.

“[Mikulak] probably could have finished in the all-around second in the world [last year without struggling on high bar],” Golder said. “That’s about where he stands right now. This guy from Japan, Uchimura, you know he’s fantastic. That’s the target. That’s the one we’re chasing.”

Simone Biles awes judges, U.S. legend to repeat at P&G Championships

Latest Posts
  1. U.S. Women undefeated after opening of indoor volleyball Grand Prix tournament

    Jul 5, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT

    Volleyball: USA vs Italy Volleyball: USA vs Italy

    Looking for their sixth Grand Prix title, the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team ended the weekend with three straight wins.

  2. Lucena, Brunner finish fourth while Brazilians claim victory at Beach Volleyball World Championships

    Jul 5, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT

    150705_BeachVolleyball Getty Images

    Brazilian teams finished on top of the podium in both the men’s and women’s finals.

  3. Jamaican sprinters Asafa Powell and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce dominate at Paris Diamond League

    Jul 4, 2015, 6:57 PM EDT

    ATHLETICS-DIAMOND-FRA ATHLETICS-DIAMOND-FRA

    The two claimed victory in the men’s and women’s 100 meters, while American Evan Jager came heartbreakingly close to making history in the steeplechase.

  4. 2012 Olympic 4x100m relay medals officially reallocated after U.S. team stripped of silver

    Jul 4, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    Olympics Day 15 - Athletics Getty Images

    Trinidad and Tobago have been upgraded to silver and France to bronze.

  5. Bicycle fall takes swimmer Kosuke Hagino out of Worlds

    Jul 4, 2015, 9:11 AM EDT

    Kosuke Hagino Kosuke Hagino

    The Japanese swimmer confirmed that his right elbow is fractured.

  6. Nick Lucena and Theo Brunner final American team in Beach Volleyball World Championships

    Jul 3, 2015, 5:13 PM EDT

    AVP Championships at Huntington Beach AVP Championships at Huntington Beach

    Three of the four remaining American teams were knocked out in the quarterfinal rounds. Lucena and Brunner will face the Brazilians in semifinals on Saturday.

  7. Jordan Burroughs on Rio: ‘My chances of winning’ are better than in London

    Jul 3, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT

    US' Jordan Ernest Burroughs celebrates a US' Jordan Ernest Burroughs celebrates a

    In an interview before the July 4th stop of the Road to Rio tour before Philadelphia, the Olympic wrestler explained how his age has become an advantage.

  8. Rio 2016 Olympic torch unveiled

    Jul 3, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    Screen shot 2015-07-03 at 11.35.56 AM

    The torch will begin in the capital city of Brasilia, passing through a planned 500 cities before reaching Maracana Stadium in Rio for the Opening Ceremony.

  9. Allyson Felix considering 200-400m double at Worlds

    Jul 3, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    150704_AllysonFelix Getty Images

    Won’t face Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who will forgo 200 meters to focus on 100.

  10. Japanese swim star Kosuke Hagino potentially out of World Championships

    Jul 2, 2015, 11:29 AM EDT

    Comments Off on Japanese swim star Kosuke Hagino potentially out of World Championships
    Japan's Kosuke Hagino competes in the me Japan's Kosuke Hagino competes in the me

    A suspected elbow fracture may force Hagino to pull out.

  11. Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross historically dominant at World Championships

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:07 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Walsh Jennings had never been part of such a rout with Misty May-Treanor.

  12. USOC eyes majority support for Boston 2024 ‘relatively soon’

    Jun 30, 2015, 7:33 PM EDT

    Boston 2024

    “We’re not discussing right now the possibility of not submitting a bid.”

  13. Usain Bolt pulls out of July track meets

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Bolt flew to Munich to treat an injury.

  14. Brazil’s president offers Barack Obama ‘standing invitation’ to Rio Olympics

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Obama has never attended an Olympics as president, and this is his last chance.

  15. Simon Shnapir retires from figure skating

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Shnapir won Olympic bronze in Sochi.

  16. Missy Franklin named top NCAA female athlete

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:37 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Franklin beat out another Rio 2016 Olympic hopeful for the honor.

  17. Cristiano Ronaldo ‘a possibility’ for Rio 2016 Olympics

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:19 AM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo Getty Images

    Ronaldo debuted at the Olympics two years before his first World Cup.

  18. Angela Ruggiero to become fourth women’s player in Hockey Hall of Fame

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:59 AM EDT

    AP AP

    The 2015 Hall of Fame class also includes four men’s Olympic medalists.

  19. Michael Phelps’ career in photos on his 30th birthday

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT

    Michael Phelps

    Most decorated Olympian of all time turned 30 on Tuesday.