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. Yuna Kim named Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic honorary ambassador

    Oct 30, 2014, 8:37 AM EDT

    Yuna Kim Getty Images

    Figure skating champion joins MLB outfielder, ballerina.

  2. Matt Anderson taking break from volleyball due to depression

    Oct 29, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT

    Matt Anderson

    Anderson is the two-time reigning USA Volleyball Player of the Year.

  3. Caroline Wozniacki nervous for New York City Marathon, even in her dreams

    Oct 29, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Caroline Wozniacki Getty Images

    Tennis player flew from Singapore to Denmark to New York this week.

  4. Fire inside London Olympic Stadium (photos)

    Oct 29, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT

    Olympic Stadium

    Rising black smoke caused brief panic, but the fire was quickly put out.

  5. Shani Davis leads U.S. speed skating team for fall World Cups

    Oct 29, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT

    Shani Davis Getty Images

    One of the U.S.’ strongest skaters from last season is not on the team.

  6. Paralympic skier Josh Sundquist a foosball player for Halloween

    Oct 28, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT

    Josh Sundquist

    Sundquist was a partially eaten gingerbread man, a leg lamp and a flamingo in recent years.

  7. Germany will bid for 2024 Olympics

    Oct 28, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT

    Germany flag Getty Images

    Either Berlin or Hamburg will be chosen in March.

  8. Boston 2024 unveils new website, promo video

    Oct 28, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    Boston 2024

    Those against Boston hosting an Olympics sent a letter to the USOC.

  9. Rio Olympic golf course given deadline to decide on moving 3 holes

    Oct 28, 2014, 9:03 AM EDT

    Rio Olympic golf course AP

    Judge rules in lawsuit over environmental concerns.

  10. Dilma Rousseff re-elected as Brazil president; Olympic impact

    Oct 27, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

    Dilma Rousseff Getty Images

    Rousseff could join a short list of women to declare open an Olympics in two years.

  11. Oldest Olympic relay torchbearer dies at 102

    Oct 27, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    Alexander Kaptarenko AP

    Alexander Kaptarenko carried a Sochi Olympic torch for 200 meters in December.

  12. Prosecutors to appeal Oscar Pistorius verdict, sentence

    Oct 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius Getty Images

    Pistorius was sentenced to no more than five years behind prison last week.

  13. Russian triumphs at Skate America; Gracie Gold third (video)

    Oct 26, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

    Elena Radionova Getty Images

    Russian who was too young for Sochi Olympics takes title.

  14. Ted Ligety struggles in first race of season (video)

    Oct 26, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT

    Ted Ligety Getty Images

    Olympic champion’s worst-ever result in Soelden.

  15. Japan’s Machida routs U.S. men at Skate America; ice dancers make history

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT

    Tatsuki Machida Getty Images

    Machida breaks record for winning margin; U.S. matches its longest drought.

Featured video

Yogging a hit at Youth Olympic Games