At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Sam Mikulak will be expected to lead the U.S. men’s gymnastics team to an Olympic medal. The two-time Olympian has been dubbed “quite possibly the most talented male American gymnast in a decade” and is considered a medal threat in several events. Mikulak’s experience will be valuable to Team USA when the men’s gymnastics competition begins, and his big personality will be sure to make him a fan favorite.
Get a load of Mikulak’s personality with this video, and then continue on to find out more about Sam Mikulak with the five fast facts below.
1. When he was a child, Mikulak wanted to be an astronaut.
If not for Tom Hanks’ work, Mikulak may have taken a completely different career path. As a young boy, Sam Mikulak had an ambition fairly typical of youngsters: He wanted to grow up and become an astronaut. That is, until he saw Apollo 13. Then he changed his mind, Sam told People.
“I watched Apollo 13, and it like absolutely freaked me out. I was terrified. I didn’t want to go to space because I thought it was imminent death.”
2. Mikulak’s parents were both gymnasts.
Sam told People that his parents allowed him to try out for every sport under the sun, including soccer, hockey, baseball, and basketball, but gymnastics is what ultimately kept him captivated. It made sense, he said, because both of his parents competed in the sport while they were students at the University of California.
When it comes time for Mikulak to have children of his own, he hopes that they, too, will want to be gymnasts, he told People.
“I definitely want to put my kids in gymnastics at an early age, whether that’s what they want to or not. Gymnastics just builds such a great fundamental strength at a young age, and they get great, they learn how to move with their body. I think that can translate to any sport later in life.”
3. Mikulak trained for the 2016 Olympics in his father’s garage.
After ankle and Achilles tendon injuries which led to surgery, Mikulak was forced to skip the 2015 World Championships and move into his father’s garage. Once he was there, Sam’s dad, orthopedic surgeon Stephen Mikulak, dug out rings, a parallel bar, and pommel horse Sam had used as a child.
Mikulak proceeded to spend the next six weeks working out in the garage, wearing a leg cast, before he returned to his full-time training residence at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Sam talked about the garage training experience in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News.
“A pretty sweet man-cave. I looked at it as an opportunity to work on something else. Pommel horse and rings, I got some new skills that I put into my routine.”
During interviews at the American Cup back in March, Sam was asked about his celebrity crush. The 23-year-old, who admits to enjoying science fiction and fantasy, said he has a crush on a Harry Potter character and the actor who played her.
“Hermoine Granger – Emma Watson – she is just a fox! That whole Harry Potter grind got me obsessed. I did some shout-outs and maybe she’ll see that when Olympic time comes around.”
5. Sam could only compete in one event at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Despite the fact that he was injured and unable to compete in the majority of events at the 2012 Olympic Games, Mikulak was still selected as a member of the five-man team sent to London. At the 2012 Olympic trials, Mikulak sprained his ankle while competing on vault during the first night of competition. At the London Olympics, Mikulak finished fifth in the vault event.
Will you tune in to watch Sam Mikulak and the U.S. men’s Olympic gymnastics team compete at the 2016 summer Olympic Games?
[Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images Sport]