US Olympics men’s gymnastics Yul Moldauer debuted in Colorado
Gene Koehnke immediately understood that there was something special about Yul Moldauer.
Days after putting him on a pommel horse, the young gymnast – then 10 years old – mastered a two-legged circle that typically takes a year or more to learn in just a few days.
âI knew then that kid was awesome,â Koehnke said Tuesday. âHe had no fear.
Koehnke, a veteran trainer and longtime owner of GK Gymnastics, was perfect in his assessment.
Moldauer, whose family lived near Wellington, is now one of America’s most accomplished male gymnasts and a legitimate contender for medals in several events, including the all-around, at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Men’s gymnastics qualifying rounds begin Friday (Thursday night, MDT).
Moldauer was the 2017 United States all-around champion and won seven individual NCAA titles in Oklahoma, where he was a member of three national championship teams. He finished third in floor exercise at the 2017 world championships and won the Nissen-Emery Prize in 2018 as the nation’s outstanding male varsity gymnast.
Over the past five years, he has consistently won titles in several events at major national competitions.
âIt was such an honor to have had him in the gym,â Koehnke said.
Orsa and Peter Moldauer adopted Yul, born in South Korea, at the age of 5 months. Orsa and Peter already had two daughters, Leah and Sorcha, and then adopted another South Korean boy, Sundo.
Yul was born prematurely, with medical issues the doctors feared they would never overcome, Peter said the Oklahoman in a recent story.
He was 7 years old when his parents enrolled him in a tumbling class at Mountain Center, a gymnastics facility in Fort Collins. He was natural and quickly rose through the ranks of the competition. After the coach who helped him win a regional title at the Junior Olympics as a Level 7 gymnast got out of the game, Moldauer’s family took him to GK (now Timberline Gymnastics).
Koehnke soon realized his center couldn’t provide Moldauer the kind of training he needed to reach his potential and recommended his parents take him to an elite program in the Denver area. .
He found himself six months later at 5280 Gymnastics in Arvada, where trainer Vladimir Artemev, his wife Irina and his son Alexander, or “Sasha”, took Moldauer under their wing.
Struggling with the 90-minute commute to the gym from the family farm in the Buckeye area of âânorthwest Wellington, the Moldauers and their four children moved to Arvada to be closer to Yul’s gym, Peter said. . Yul trained for 2.5 hours each morning before school and for another three hours after school. He regularly attended national and junior team camps and state and regional clinics at the US Olympic Training Center, said Kyle Kirkpatrick, coach of several of those camps and clinics.
âThe thing about Yul was he was always there,â Kirkpatrick said. âThe kids sometimes went to a camp or a clinic and sometimes they didn’t. Yul was constantly at those; he never missed one.
Yul made significant strides during his 5,280 years, winning state, regional, and national junior Olympic titles at levels 9 and 10 and winning a college scholarship to Oklahoma, where he won an all-around title in the NCAA as a freshman in 2016.
Yul has won NCAA and United States national gymnastics titles in several events over the past few years and a handful of medals in international competitions. He secured his spot on the U.S. team for Tokyo by finishing second behind Brody Malone of Stanford in the all-around and in the top three in four of five individual events – first on parallel bars, second on pommel horse and third on rings and ground exercise – at the US Olympic Trials last month in St. Louis.
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Peter said Yul had set up a pommel horse in the garage and a set of tumbling rings and tracks inside his home in Norman, Oklahoma to continue training while the gyms were closed. due to COVID-19 restrictions. Teammates often came to use the equipment as well, he said.
Yul graduated from Oklahoma just over a year ago and returned to Arvada last fall to prepare for international competitions and Olympic trials at 5280.
The boy who debuted in a tumbling class 17 years ago in Fort Collins has grown into a seasoned veteran and a world elite athlete.
âHe’s always had talent and interest,â said Peter. âOver the years his head game has changed a lot. He’s gone from dating and being nervous to dating and wanting to show everyone what he can do.
“Now he’s going over there, and he knows he can do it.”
Kelly Lyell reports on CSU, high school and other local sports and topics of interest to Coloradoan. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter @KellyLyell and find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KellyLyell.news. If you are a subscriber, thank you for your support. If not, consider purchasing a digital subscription today.