ST. LOUIS -- Coaches play an important role in gymnasts' preparation for each performance. They put rosin and water on bars, line up mats and springboards, and tighten bars to the right tension. Usually.
During Sam Mikulak's routine on the parallel bars at the second day of men's competition at the Visa Championships, a coach noticed that he had forgotten one part of the preparation. He never tightened one of the parallel bars, and it flopped around as Mikulak went through his routine. The coach ran to the bar and tightened it while he was still in a handstand.
Afterwards, Mikulak said he didn't get rattled by the equipment issues.
"Time was coming down to it, and I started to feel the bar, and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, it's loose, and I stood there and shook it so my coach would hear. He tightened it, and sure enough, the other one was loose," Mikulak said.
"Everything happened so fast, and I thought just please fix it. We didn't get the deduction, and did a great routine nonetheless."
Because of the mistake, Mikulak had to repeat a skill later in his routine. He fixed it all on the fly without a problem, and earned a 15.6 for the performance. With this weekend's efforts, Mikulak took third in all-around and moved into contention for a spot on the Olympic team. His grace under pressure during the parallel bars will certainly make an impression on the selection committee.