GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — This year has been a different one for University of Minnesota gymnast Shane Wiskus, and it's had nothing to do with the pandemic.
"Even though I was repping the Gophers, I was training elsewhere in Colorado," Wiskus said.
Wiskus moved to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to train with other Olympic hopefuls, while continuing to return and compete for the Gophers.
"It was definitely weird, but I would say it was more fulfilling than anything. Being back with my teammates, competition and representing the Gophers again is always a great feeling," he said.
Especially since it was the final season in program history, after the school eliminated the program due to budget cuts.
"To have that cut the year of the Olympics just seems like very poor timing, and it almost makes me want to make the team even more just to kind of show them what they missed out on," Wiskus said.
That motivation may seem a but harsh, but it worked. Wiskus won two NCAA Titles this year and was named the 2021 Nissen-Emery Award winner, which is awarded to the nation's best senior collegiate gymnast.
"I feel like the time off might have even helped me heal some of the nagging injuries from last year, obviously you have another year to wrap your head around the Olympics," said Wiskus
That is where Wiskus’ real challenge came. He’s been training hard at the Olympic Training Center three times a day with many others; who also hope to grab one of just four spots. And despite that fierce competition and desire to make the team, he feels like the Olympics is greater than just one person
"If we get to trials and I am not that guy, I just want the team to go there and bring back a medal. I don’t care who it is, obviously I am going to do everything in my power to be that guy," he said.
In the U.S. Championships in early June, he was that guy. Sitting in 2nd place going into the final rotation before a series of falls on the high bar knocked him into 9th place. But Wiskus said he won’t let them get him down. And he won’t count himself out until the spots are filled. Until that time, he is truly enjoying the journey.
"The fact that I am going for a dream and trying for a dream is already a win... its not the critique that counts it’s the man in the arena who strives valiantly and I think that is something that stays with me. The fact that I am trying is motivating and inspiration," Wiskus said.