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Thursday, July 25, 2024

When gymnastics worlds collide: Fred Richard has gold medal goals whereas repping Michigan

Creative gymnastics might be divided into two worlds: elite and school, however now, greater than ever, gymnasts are selecting to do each concurrently. On this collection, Gymnastics Now talks with athletes who’re straddling the road between worlds to spotlight the nuances of representing school and nation.

For the primary version of this collection, Gymnastics Now spoke with the younger and extremely proficient Fred Richard.

The 19-year-old lately completed a stellar freshman season representing the College of Michigan males’s gymnastics crew, profitable each the 2023 NCAA and Large Ten all-around titles, amongst others. He’s additionally a member of the U.S. senior males’s nationwide crew.

“Frederick Flips” – as he’s know throughout social – is making a splash in each NCAA and elite, however he has one main purpose in thoughts: bringing dwelling an Olympic gold medal.

“The top purpose is bringing that gold medal, to deliver that gold medal house is the place my eyes are set, which is a fairly large purpose.” Richard mentioned. “It’s massive, but when I might deliver [home] a gold medal, and characterize Michigan, characterize all of the individuals who have put a lot work into serving to me get the place I’m at present, that’s once I’m gonna really feel full, however till then, I’ll be happy however at all times pushing.”

Path to Paris

Richard has shortly change into one of many prime U.S. senior elites over the previous yr, however the fast rise to stardom hasn’t modified his plans to change into an Olympian – or a Michigan legend.

“U.S. championships is in about [a month], and by then, I’m doing principally the routines that I plan to have for the Olympics,” Richard mentioned. “That is when I’ve principally my full issue – will not be excellent, however it’ll be there – and that’s the place I’m pushing for that competitors… [During] the NCAA season, I actually discovered to excellent issues and work on cleansing up, and I feel it’s the proper stage to compete week after week, simply perfecting these Olympic routines throughout the NCAA season.”

(USA Gymnastics/YouTube)

Whereas an Olympic gold medal is the top purpose, Richard has a number of milestones to hit earlier than then. One of many largest stepping stones is making the U.S. worlds crew – a possibility Richard missed out on final season resulting from an Worldwide Gymnastics Federation (FIG) rule.

Since he represented the U.S. as a junior internationally in 2022, he was ineligible for the senior worlds crew. This could be a state of affairs that frustrates many athletes, however Richard appears to take the whole lot in stride. As a substitute of fretting over what might’ve been, he took the previous yr to develop.

“I’m glad I had an additional yr to have the ability to develop, and I feel I’ve grown rather a lot, as proven [during] the NCAA season. I plan to point out [that at] the subsequent coming competitions, however I feel it’s thrilling,” Richard mirrored. “I’m there now. Once I take a look at these guys, in different nations, their ability degree is correct the place I’m, nothing is just not a lot better. So, I feel by worlds I’d be in excellent form to contend for the gold, which is massive.”

The dream massive child

That’s the constant factor about Richard: there are not any small targets. He isn’t singularly centered on making the worlds crew or incomes a spot on the Olympic crew; he seems to be in any respect these different moments as steps towards the larger image whereas additionally recognizing his present potential.

“Expertise is one factor. It’s nice and all, however I need to win,” Richard mentioned. “This yr, I’m actually capable of contend for that gold medal, and all-around, and it clearly helps the crew rather a lot to get on the rostrum.”

Fred Richard vaults during the 2023 DTB Pokal senior men's team challenge.
Fred Richard vaults throughout the 2023 DTB Pokal – his first worldwide task as a senior. (© Filippo Tomasi)

Richard has achieved a lot already, however it’s clear his potential has barely been tapped. He’s contending for these spots towards athletes who’ve already graduated school – some are practically a decade older (and extra skilled) than Richard, who solely turned 19 in April. The U.S. crew’s leaders will all be of their mid-to-late 20s come Paris, making Richard’s capacity to contend all of the extra spectacular.

“I by no means even take into consideration my age, however I’m like, wow, they’re so good at this, however then I keep in mind, oh yeah, they’d 4 extra years to excellent it,” Richard mentioned of his teammates. “However I’ve 4 extra years. So it’s thrilling to know that I can push at this degree now and that, years from now, I can [be] to date forward of the competitors, which is the purpose, so long as I keep wholesome and maintain pushing.”

Whereas there may be some pleasant competitors among the many U.S. males’s ranks, Richard is targeted on studying from the older athletes on the crew whereas constructing the bond essential to contend for world and Olympic crew medals. He had the prospect to do exactly that at a current U.S. coaching camp in France.

“I feel it was very beneficial. All of us come from totally different areas of the nation with totally different teachings and totally different beliefs. So, to come back collectively to share all that we all know and simply begin determining learn how to construct this stronger crew dynamic, I feel it’s beneficial for all of us,” Richard mentioned of the June journey. “We actually took that camp to determine what our crew requirements are and the way we need to be seen and what it means to be a USA Olympic gymnast or Olympic-level gymnast.”

The last word balancing act

Richard is calm, cool, collected, and pushed, however he’s additionally solely 19. So how does he handle chasing his Olympic dream whereas being a school athlete and, you realize, a (semi) regular younger grownup? The reply is easy: he retains the identical requirements for himself in each facet of life.

“I like to think about myself as an Olympic-level gymnast above the whole lot else,” Richard defined. “NCAA is essential, team-wise, however once I maintain that Olympic-level gymnast customary in thoughts once I practice, it [also] prepares me for the NCAA world. That’s type of like a smaller subsection of that greater customary that I maintain. So I practice each day for the most important competitions; I practice for worlds each single day, after which I am going and compete at [the NCAA championships], and I kill it as a result of I used to be pushing such a excessive customary.”

It’s simple to overlook amidst all this coaching that Richard can also be a pupil. There’s a motive they’re also known as pupil-athletes, as a result of being a pupil and incomes a level are the foundation, the requirement, and the precursor to being a school athlete.

“On the subject of college I, I discovered learn how to simply, with minimal time, output as as a lot as I can fairly shortly. Don’t procrastinate and get issues performed so I can stability it,” Richard mentioned. “However I put quite a lot of hours into the health club, so it’s a grind, becoming at school and all the opposite issues that come together with being a school pupil, however stability works.”

As if he’s not already busy, Richard has roughly 750,000 followers throughout Instagram and TikTok, the place he shares behind-the-scenes seems to be at his coaching and enjoyable content material centered round gymnastics, usually.

“I put quite a lot of time into it. I’ve those who I’ve employed for, for recording me once I practice and other people will provide you with concepts with me and I type of deal with it as like, type of just like the enterprise aspect, I need to develop my identify and NIL offers and issues like that sooner or later, you realize, make an excellent dwelling off of it.” mentioned Richard. “So I push that very laborious identical to gymnastics. And it’s rather a lot as a result of it provides one other two hours to your day of making content material on prime of gymnastics, however it’s one thing I like to do, and I imply, there’s nice outcomes from it. You recognize, folks get impressed and also you stroll on the road and generally folks acknowledge you, which is fairly humorous.”

A village of Wolverines

Richard has his eyes set on some lofty targets – ones that may’t be achieved with out correct teaching and a diligent help workers, and he’s grateful for the village that surrounds him at Michigan, making this journey as easy as attainable to date.

“I feel the privilege I’ve at Michigan is the coaches are very understanding and have that very same mindset of pushing for that world degree, and they also’ve discovered a technique to create a plan for me that weaves within the school and the Olympic degree on the similar time, as a substitute of 1 part of the yr being one factor and one other part being one other,” Richard defined. “So I maintain the coaches to that, as a result of I do know some groups will not be like that and also you type of simply should do what the coaches say, however my coach has been very understanding and constructed type of only a excellent blended plan that does each.”

Whereas nothing goes completely in accordance with plan, it looks as if all of the items are falling into place for Richard’s Olympic push – what’s more likely to be the primary of some.

“Be careful for me. It’s gonna be enjoyable. I hope to deliver some massive outcomes for this nation,” Richard mentioned on the finish of our dialog.

We’ll definitely be watching to see how Fred Richard’s journey unfolds. Will you?

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