Although USA Gymnastics has consistently dominated internationally on the women’s side, the men’s team hasn’t had the same level of success. However, all-around competitor Yul Moldauer has aims of turning that around at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
After a second-place finish in the all-around at the US Olympic Trials in St. Louis last month, as well as several top-three finishes in individual events, the 24-year-old may just have what it takes to make good on that goal, too.
Here’s what you need to know about the first-time Olympian…
1. Moldauer’s Roots as a Person and Gymnast Lie in Northern Colorado
Although he was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1996, the superstar gymnast was adopted as an infant by parents Peter and Orsa Moldauer and grew up with his siblings, Leah, Sorcha and Sundo on a farm in Colorado.
Per the Fort Collins Coloradoan, he got his start in gymnastics at the age of seven when his parents enrolled him in a tumbling class at Mountain Center, a gym in Fort Collins. They later took him to GK (now Timberline) Gymnastics. However, owner and coach Gene Koehnke immediately recognized Moldauer’s talent and recommended he join an elite program.
“I knew then this kid was great,” Koehnke said. “He didn’t have any fear.”
He eventually landed with 5280 Gymnastics, with whom he won multiple state and regional meets, earning a spot on the US Junior National Team along the way.
2. He Starred as a Collegiate With the Oklahoma Sooners
After finishing first on floor exercise, still rings, vault table and parallel bars at the 2015 Junior Olympic National Championships, as well as first in the all-around, Moldauer enrolled at the University of Oklahoma the following year.
Per Sooner Sports, he became just the second freshman in NCAA gymnastics history to capture the national title in the all-around in 2016. He also took second on the parallel bars, just .050 points off first place, at the NCAA finals and finished third on the floor exercise. He was an All-America pick on floor, parallel bars and in the all-around.
He went on to win a multitude of MPSF Conference titles and national championships while racking up 18 All-American honors over his four years in Norman. In 2019, he captured OU’s eighth Nissen-Emery Award, which is given to the top male collegiate gymnast in the nation.
Moldauer graduated from OU with a degree in communication.
3. Moldauer Already Has Multiple International Medals
Moldauer made his World Championship debut at the 2017 World Championships in Montreal, Canada. Although he finished seventh in the all-around event, he took home a bronze medal in the floor exercise.
That same year at the American Cup — a FIG World Cup event in Newark, New Jersey — he won the all-around championship. He would accomplish the same feat two more times, at the 2018 event in Chicago and the 2019 event in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Tokyo Olympics will be his first shot at gold on the biggest stage of international competition.
4. He’s Determined to Put Team USA Back on the Podium
It has been 13 years since the Americans have medaled in the team event, winning bronze at 2008 Olympics in Beijing. It’s been even longer since Team USA won the all-around title at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. But Moldauer is intent on reclaiming his country’s lost glory.
“You look at most other countries, and gymnastics is in the top five sports,” Moldauer told The Athletic. “Their athletes get paid thousands and thousands of dollars. In the U.S., we’re just lacking that a little bit. I’ve always just had this theory that all it takes is to bring back hardware, and that is my No. 1 goal: bring back hardware for this country so gymnastics can be just as popular as the women’s side again.”
He added, “Ever since 2008, we haven’t been medaling, and the sport has kinda died out. If we can nail it, we can bring life back to the sport.”
5. Moldauer Has Spoken Out Against Anti-Asian Sentiment
Moldauer may spend his free time mixing music and working on cars and getting cool haircuts, as relayed by his Team USA bio, but he is also speaking out against hate.
Earlier this year, he recounted an incident to The Oklahoman in which a woman in a white Suburban pulled up next to him and yelled, “Go back to China.” He had experienced similar situations before, but given the current movements against injustice and racial inequality, he was taken aback by what transpired.
“It shouldn’t be normal,” he said. “Asian-Americans shouldn’t have to go through the name-calling, the stereotypes and the jokes.”