2008 Olympic Team Member and head coach of the University of Illinois men’s gymnastics team…

Justin Spring

Justin Spring

1.) You tore your ACL at the 2007 Nationals, a year away from Beijing. What was going through your mind when it happened and what was the road back like with only a year until the Games?

As soon and I rolled over on the mat after vault I thought, “Beijing is out!” Sometimes being the comeback kid is a little easier because no one expects you to do it. I could have done without the extra ankle injury at qualifier as well though. All in all, I am so happy with how everything played out and I wouldn’t change a thing!

2.) What was your favorite skill to compete? What was your favorite apparatus to compete? Least favorite?

I hated competing on horse. I loved competing on high bar. The crowd just loves to watch that event and it’s a lot of fun performing when the crow really enjoys what your doing. My favorite skill to compete was my Cassina on high bar. My least favorite skill to compete was my triple twisting double on floor… that thing scared the crap out of me.

3.) You were known for being a daredevil type of gymnast. Were there any skills that even you thought were too risky to try/perform?

I think that as long as you prepare to do your routines and skills, then nothing is too risky. The problem with this sport however, is that USA male gymnasts rarely have a opportunity to compete without the fate on the national team spot being in jeopardy. Every national competition we compete in is an opportunity to gain a spot or loose a spot on the national team. Sometimes that makes you push to compete a skill a little before you were ready.

4.) What do you think could be done to increase the popularity and exposure of men’s gymnastics here in the U.S. (at the elite and college levels)?

Change the uniforms! Let us be more of ourselves on the floor! Gymnastics is too heavily stigmatized because of how uptight we always look when competing. There is a lot of other things too though…

5.) What attributes from your prior gymnastics training have you incorporated into your coaching, and what new ideas/philosophies have you incorporated?

The importance of long term planning and accountability. Talent alone will not take you to the top of this sport. It requires so much dedication. I work on discipline and accountability on a daily basis with my guys.