CYPRESS, Texas – One of the most emotional Olympic trials for men’s gymnastics produced some fantastic performances, and the five-man Olympic team was announced. It was a huge moment for Houstonian Chris Brooks, who made his first Olympic team.
But is was also a big moment for the coaches and gymnasts at Cypress Academy Gymnastics, which Brooks called home for five years trying to become an Olympian.
He spent all those years with coach Tom Meadows, who like Chris, could not hide his emotions there in St. Louis as Saturday’s special night unfolded.
“Is that Chris? It’s not Chris. Is that Chris?” Meadows said were the thoughts going through his mind when he tried to determine if he could see Brooks emerging from the darkened area just before the Olympic team announcement was made.
“I was jumping out of my seat,” Meadows said. “When they said Chris Brooks, it was just as emotional (it) as can get."
Meadows was a coach for the U.S. team in 2012 at the London Olympic games, and Brooks was an alternate, but now after overcoming injury setbacks and disappointments, Brooks is a great example for some of the younger elite gymnasts who were there training alongside him in the gym and who aspire to his heights in the future.
"It really motivates me to put a lot of hard work into what I do in the gym and not just blow past stuff,” Jack Freeman, a 15-year-oldgymnast at Cypress Academy, said.
“It’s very encouraging because you know he did it and you don’t feel like you’re that far behind him,” Alexei Vernyi said. Vernyi finished third at the P & G Championships in juniors (15-16) on Saturday.
It’s just a five-man Olympic roster, so it’s pretty cool for one gym here in Houston to produce now its third Olympian.
"It’s going to be fun to watch him in Rio. It’ll be a fun time to support him as one of our family members,” Meadows said.
Brooks keeps a nice little run going for Cypress Academy with Raj Bhavsar (2004 alternate, 2008 Olympic team), Jon Horton (2008 and 2012 Olympic team), coach Meadows (2012 Olympic team) and now Brooks. This academy has been part of the Olympic contingent at each of the last four Olympic Games.