Olympic hopeful Sam Mikulak fights through sprained ankle at trials
Mikulak pulled out of several events, but still competed in the pommel horse Saturday to try to earn a trip to London.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — If it had been up to Sam Mikulak, he'd have competed in six events on one leg.
Common sense prevailed, even if it might have jeopardized his chances of making the U.S. men's Olympic gymnastics team.
Mikulak skipped everything but pommel horse during the finals Saturday after spraining his left ankle during preliminaries two days earlier, blunting the momentum he'd built during the qualifying process. He posted the highest score Thursday night, but landed awkwardly on the vault, his final event of the night.
Despite aggressive treatment, his coaches decided to rest him for most of the finals. He posted a so-so score of 14.4 on pommel horse — which puts no stress on the ankles other than the landing — and will spend Saturday night sweating it out with a half-dozen teammates hoping to join John Orozco and Danell Leyva in London next month.
"It's a little disappointing," Mikulak said. "I'm hoping things will work out in my favor."
Mikulak appeared to nail down one of the coveted Olympic spots on Thursday with a fearless and nearly flawless performance that saw him slip past both Orozco and Leyva.
Now he and coach Kurt Golder will have to put their faith in a résumé that includes a 2011 NCAA championship.
"You just have to trust the decision of the selection committee," Golder said.
Jacob Dalton and Chris Brooks — who are in the mix for the final three spots — posted solid scores, as did two-time Olympic medalist Jonathan Horton.
Mikulak ended up with the fourth-best score on the pommel horse Saturday.
Chris Brooks bounced back from a mistake-ridden performance on vault and parallel bars Thursday with an inspired showing on Saturday, willing himself into a tie for fourth place with Dalton. While it may not be enough for Brooks to make the team, the selection committee still faces a tough decision after his comeback.