TOKYO, Japan (WCMH) — It is clear that Alec Yoder has the talent to win an Olympic medal on pommel horse. Just watching him go through his skills, it looks effortless, dynamic, and yet beautiful.
But if you want something a little less subjective, Ohio State University gymnast and Yoder’s former teammate Andrew Brower said just look at the numbers.
“I mean, if you look at the scores between Yoder and then the top three guys who all had the same score, it’s like .066 or something,” he explained. “It’s pretty much anyone’s game at this point.”
Twenty years, for 30 seconds – that is where Yoder’s gymnastics journey has led – one routine for an Olympic medal. It’s a lot of pressure, but Yoder’s teammates and coaches believe he was made for this moment. He is an absolute gamer.
“He is the most clutch person I’ve ever competed with,” said Ohio State gymnast Dexter Roettker. “Every time I know he raises his hand, he’s going to hit a routine. Like no chance that he doesn’t.”
It is a strength he was born with, but over the past five years, when Yoder has needed more from himself, that tenacity has deepened.
“Sometimes you have bad days and negative emotions, you know?” said OSU men’s gymnastics head coach Rustam Sharipoy though tears. “It’s not always perfect. Seeing so much what he went through the last 18 months and that I really wish that he just do what he’s capable of doing – nothing more.”
Rustam knows first-hand what it takes to win Olympic medals. He won a gold at each the 1992 and 1996 Games.
“I showed him before he left my two gold medals, and, ‘Look, bring me one of those, I don’t care what color,’” he said with a smile.
And it’s clear: while it was an honor to win hardware for his country, Rustam may feel more proud and emotional if Yoder is able to finish on the podium. “It wasn’t easy because you see the final product but what was behind the scenes that’s what makes me so emotional because it’s not for everybody,” he said wiping tears from his eyes. “I think he’s ready. You know every person it’s a time in their life when they have to shine.”