From Farm To Floor: Olympic Gymnast Yul Moldauer Discusses His Journey To Tokyo And Beyond
The 2020 Olympics have wrapped up, and athletes from the state of Colorado went out with a splash. Of the 613 athletes who came to represent the United States, 33 are from Colorado. But while the state boasted multiple athletes competing in sports like track and field, cycling and shooting, there was only one who took the stage for gymnastics.
Yul Moldauer is an artistic gymnast who represented the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics. The 24-year-old Arvada local placed sixth in the men's floor final and is also the 2017 U.S. National all-around champion. He spoke with Colorado Edition's Alana Schreiber about his Olympic debut, how he got here and what the future may hold.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Alana Schreiber: These are your first Olympic Games. So tell us a bit about your experience so far?
Yul Moldauer: Well, considering COVID, it's a little different this year. As a little kid, I imagined walking into huge stadiums, meeting a bunch of new athletes and competing with thousands of fans in the audience. But this year there's no one in the audience and we’re kind of trapped in our hotel. But just to be here and represent my country is an honor and I'm so excited that I'm finally here.
Let's expand on that a bit. How has COVID impacted the Olympics for you and your journey to get here?
My journey to get here is pretty, pretty crazy, actually. I remember back when COVID first hit in March, we were about a couple of months away from the Olympic trials and everything shut down. I had no gym to train at, so I started training in my garage. I went to Home Depot and got some eye hooks so I could put some Amazon rings in the ceiling, and Air Track sent me a tumbling mat so I could tumble on my front lawn. I got as many weights as I could from the gym and brought them home so I could condition. And I trained in my garage for about three months, whether it was cold or hot. At one point we had three space heaters on just to keep it warm enough in there so we could train. But once things opened back up, I decided to move back to my hometown in Arvada and train at my gym where it all began. And I trained there throughout this whole year and I finally made it here.
Let's go back a minute. You grew up on a farm. I'm curious how the work ethic you learned there may have played a role in your road to the Olympics?
Oh, I think it plays a huge role. It taught me how to be on time. It taught me how to work as a team. It taught me not to be lazy. When you're thinking about running a farm, it's not like you can just sleep in and skip feeding the animals or put off work because you don't want to do it. These animals depend on you, so it definitely taught me about responsibility. The older I got, I thought about it more and more. And it just made me realize how much the farm did for me and my perspectives of what work ethic is.
I think a lot of people might not realize how much of a team the gymnasts are, mainly because when you do compete, you compete alone, often against one another. Tell us a bit about the dynamic on Team USA and what those relationships are like.
My approach for gymnastics, it's always about the team. Once you get to the national team and you're going out competing for the country, you have to view it as a team sport. Because at the end of the day, when you step onto that podium, you've got three or four other guys with you that you're depending on to do well. So when I think about the team, I can be better, I train better, I do better. And it's a sticky situation because we compete against each other at times. But that is just a part of sports, and you have to be able to switch your mindsets for the team and for yourself. But at the end of the day, there's nothing more satisfying than knowing that you did something as a group than alone. The dynamic of the team is amazing. The guys here, they're like my best friends. Hopefully someday they'll be my wedding. So it definitely builds that relationship and bond, that you just want to do this for each other.
This conversation is part of KUNC’s Colorado Edition for Aug. 5. You can find the full episode here.