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Bhavsar Impressed by Brooks' Emergence
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

2008 Olympic medalist Raj Bhavsar wrote down his impressions of the recent U.S. Men's Winter Cup for IG Online. Here are his thoughts...

Winter Cup 2010 was an exciting one to say the least. Outside of the fact that many of the top U.S. men are nursing injuries, I feel that the U.S. men's gymnastics program is flexing its depth once again. From an athlete-to-athlete admiration standpoint, I was most impressed with the strong arrival of Chris Brooks (pictured here) onto the scene. Some may know that we grew up and trained together, but all biases aside. What gives me chills is an athlete who accepts lifeʼs challenges as motivation to reach new heights in his or her career. Chris definitely showed his desire to succeed at this yearʼs showdown and it paid off. I donʼt like singling out one athlete, because everyone should be honored for their hard work, but I will confess, he is now one to watch.

There are, of course, a couple of line items that need attention. It's no mystery that the U.S. men are in need of a few rock stars on pommel horse and even bigger vaults could contribute to a higher team score. The U.S. has continuously performed well on events like floor, high bar and parallel bars, but the overall theme of boosting Start Value will have to remain important to contend for gold in London. That's right, I said it. Gold. The one color that remains elusive for the U.S. throughout the past few quads. It will be interesting to watch how these guys answer the call, and Iʼm sure other countries will have something to say about it.

While I have the floor, I have to mention the naming of the new National Team Coordinator for the men. While the position may be new to him, the expertise, knowledge and heart that he brings to the program is not. Im talking about Kevin Mazeika, one of the most decorated menʼs gymnastics coaches in history. Kevin has been head coach of many of the past medal-winning world championship and Olympic teams, and it's my belief that he will do an outstanding job of looking after every athleteʼs needs. Predecessor Ron Brant did an outstanding job as a team leader and has set the bar very high for Kevin and others, and it may be his exemplary standards that push Kevinʼs leadership and Team USA to new heights.

This was my first national level competition as a coach, and I must say it comes with a mixed bag of emotions. Part of me wants to be out there sticking double-doubles, but the other part enjoyed sitting back and watching true athleticism take place.

Of course, I was wowed by many of the skills, but what I truly enjoyed was witnessing sportsmanship take place before my eyes. It's great to see athletes from different, sometimes rival gyms congratulating each other after routines, coupled with high-fives and a “keep it going.” One moment that is still etched in my mind was the last rotation, where Chris Brooks and Jonathan Horton, ranked 1 and 2, respectively, were waiting to compete their final routines. Before his pommel horse routine, Jon displayed his leadership style by leaving the pommel horse area for an exchange of encouraging remarks with Chris on floor: “Get after it, man. Bring it home!” Jon, a guy who is used to being at the top of this field, was now humbly hoping for his teammate to win.

I saw examples like this all over the place; senior veterans encouraging juniors, juniors yelling for their guys, coaches helping other coaches, and even judges giving pointers to athletes after the competition. I dont know about you, but to heck with the scores and the rank, this is what sports is all about.


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