By Chuck Reherman
When Gage Dyer didn’t hear his name called for the Men’s Olympic team At the conclusion of the Olympic team trials in St. Louis this past week, his thoughts changed from disappointment to the next thing.
Making the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Dyer was one of a handful of gymnasts from around the country to compete for five spots on the Olympic team. The recent OU grad and Yukon native was actually going for the individual spot, competing in both the floor exercise and the vault.
That plus-one spot (individual) spot went to Alec Yoder in a close race. The plus-one spot is new to the Tokyo games, part of a larger chance that saw teams shrink from five to four.
“It was a great experience,” Dyer said. “It was a really cool opportunity, a testimony to all the hard work and dedication I have put into the sport. Felt it was another opportunity for it to pay off and it was a very exciting and humbling experience for me.
“I wasn’t necessarily shocked, I was very excited for my teammate Yul Moldaur, he has lived and breathe gymnastics for as long as he has been able to talk, so seeing him getting named to go to Tokyo was really cool experience,” he said. “My teammate Allan Bower made the alternate position. I was hoping he would have made the team, but I am extremely happy that he gets to go to Tokyo. He has put in a lot of hard work and dedication as well.
“It was also very motivating for me moving forward. That meet gave me a lot of confidence and just knowing I am able to be up there and be considered to be any Olympian is just fuel for my fire to continue to work hard at this sport and hopefully make that team one day.”
In his two events, Dyer finished third in the vault over the two days and fourth in the floor exercise.
He had a vault score of 14.500 on the first day and improved the next, scoring a 14.750 to finished with a 29.200.
In the floor exercise, he also had a better score on the second day with a 14.650 score. He had a 14.250 the first day and a 28.900 overall the second.
Yoder was selected ahead of Dyer for the specialist spot after taking first in the pommel horse with a score of 29.600.
“Alec is from Ohio State and is a really good friend, I am happy for him,” Dyer said. “He is a very strong and good competitor. I was pleased to be in consideration with him and the others for a spot on the Olympic team.
“There will always be a little bit of a disappointment, but in all honestly I am extremely happy that I was given the opportunity to be able to go. It was always a dream of mine to compete at something like that. It is me just being happy and grateful for the opportunity.
“I was doing it for that 13-year-old Gage that was watching my heroes when I first started the sport and being at the same competition with those guys that I was watching when I was younger was a real surreal moment. And, it was a blessing and an honor to be there.”
One of those “heroes” was Sam Mikulak, who was competing for his first Olympics when Dyer was 13 and just getting into the sport.
“I kept on running into him in the bathroom, and we would have conversations about gym and stuff. It was at least 20 times during the weekend we would be going back and forth and we were cracking up.
“To be that close and that friendly with him, it was like meeting super hero,” he said. “I was just in shock and awe. He is a normal human being just like me and it was cool to build a bond with some one that I have looked up to since I started.”
While he didn’t put up the best scores in his two events that he did while in college, Dyer was still pleased with the way he competed.
“I was extremely pleased with how I did,” he said. “I went in there and did my job to the best of my abilities and I think that is all I can really ask for. To be at such a high level competition, be able to do well and be considered to be an Olympian, just to be in that situation and be considered I was pleased.”
Dyer had qualified for the Olympic trials back in early June when he won a spot on the men’s nation team in those trials in Fort Worth, TX. He know waits to see if he will be part of the World team.
“They are releasing the names of the people that will be going to the World Championship trials, which takes place in September,” he said. “So hopefully, I will be able to do that and be able to make the World Team. It is just like the Olympics, except it happens every year.
“Now that I have made the national team, gotten my name into the mix and experience in the Olympic trials, I think that will help out. If the body holds out, we will take a shot at Paris in 2024.”
By Chuck Reherman