Alec Yoder wasn’t planning to be in Tokyo for the Summer Olympics. He was initially left off the national team, due to knee pain that limited his ability to take part in all six events.
But a rule change allowed for specialists. Now he’s got a shot at medaling.
The gymnast from Indiana advanced to Sunday’s final in the pommel horse after finishing fourth in qualifications.
“If I make an Olympic final, I’m not swinging to get fourth,” he told the Indianapolis Star before the Games. “I’m going to swing, and I’m going to swing to be perfect. I’m going to do everything I can to win an Olympic medal. I’m looking for a great routine, not a good one.
“I know I’m on a good trajectory. I feel the best I’ve ever been.”
Yoder recorded a 15.20 score, which was good for fourth overall. His execution score of 8.80 was second. Lee Chih Kai of Chinese Tapei place first with a score of 15.266. The final is early Sunday morning.
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The 24-year-old won the pommel horse at the 2020 and 2021 Winer Cups, but until the rule change, he wasn’t named to the national team. Without the $2,000 a month stipend, he had to work for DoorDash to pay rent and use some of his savings.
“In my mind, the end goal was, I was going to make the Olympic team,” he said. “If I’m at a job for seven or eight hours a day, it’s not going to work out. I bunkered down and tried to do everything I could to salvage as much as I could.
“I never joined this sport to get rich. If I go broke trying to make the Olympic Games, it’s all good with me.”