8 men’s contenders to watch at USA Gymnastics Olympic Trials

By Nate Maretzki | June 27, 2024
Khoi Young, Brody Malone, and Yul Moldauer at the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
© Matthew Smith/Gymnastics Now

As the U.S. men’s gymnastics team prepares for Paris, this week’s USA Gymnastics Olympic Trials in Minneapolis will be a pivotal meet for determining which athletes will represent the country on the world stage. The trials, set for June 27-30, will see the U.S. men’s senior national and senior development teams vying for five spots on the Olympic Team. The field is loaded with talent, including three Tokyo Olympians and world medalists, but here are eight of the top contenders to watch out for.

For more information on the USA Gymnastics Olympic Trials, check out our preview.

Brody Malone

Brody Malone at the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
© Matthew Smith/Gymnastics Now

As an Olympian, world champion, and now three-time U.S. all-around champion, Brody Malone needs no introduction.

After a prolific NCAA career at Stanford University, where he earned two NCAA all-around titles and led the Cardinal to four straight team titles, Malone has graduated last year and is now fully focused on elite. His performance would truly come into its own in 2022, earning medals at international competitions in Cottbus, Stuttgart, Rio de Janeiro, and Paris before eventually traveling to Liverpool, England, for the World Gymnastics Championships, where he would win gold on high bar.

In March 2023, he would be selected once again for the DTB Pokal in Stuttgart – the same competition where he led the U.S. to victory a year earlier. After winning another team title, Malone qualified for the high bar final. It was then that at the end of a flawless high bar set, his left hand peeled off the bar during his dismount tap and he crashed into the ground, suffering a tibial plateau fracture, meniscus tear, and ligament damage. The nearly career-ending injury would put him out of competition for nearly a year. Multiple surgeries would follow, and he would begin the long process to recovery.

Not discouraged, Malone graduated from Stanford and moved to Florida to begin training at EVO Gymnastics under a talented coaching staff that includes Syque Caesar and Tokyo Olympic teammate Sam Mikulak. After officially returning to competition in January and competing three events at the 2024 Winter Cup, he made his all-around return at the U.S. championships earlier this month, proving he’s still one of the best in the world. Competing an upgraded high bar set (and sticking his dismount), Malone dominated the competition and won his third U.S. all-around title just 15 months after his career almost came to an abrupt end in Germany.

Malone’s story is one of hardship and perseverance – one that shows the true grit and determination required to be the best. His strength under pressure in competitions both nationally and abroad is proof that his career will only continue to prosper.

All eyes will be on him at trials as the favorite to win. He’s got the chance to automatically lock a spot on his second Olympic team if he wins the all-around and finishes top three on three events, but make no mistake, Malone is expected to be named to the team one way or another.

Fred Richard

Fred Richard at the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
© Matthew Smith/Gymnastics Now

Men’s gymnastics’ latest superstar, Fred “Frederick Flips” Richard is a force to be reckoned with. The 20-year-old Boston native has already made waves just two years into his collegiate career, boasting three NCAA titles, including the 2023 all-around title. His shining moment came at 2023 Worlds, where he, alongside four other Olympic hopefuls, brought home the bronze medal in the team competition against star-studded teams from Japan and China, securing an Olympic team berth for the U.S. in the process. He would then go on to earn a bronze medal in the all-around, cementing his legacy as the youngest American male gymnast (19) to ever win an individual world medal.

Richard’s story is on a steep upward trajectory. We are witnessing a truly spectacular gymnast only on the cusp of what will undoubtedly be a historic career. Considering his age and mindset, we can be assured that as soon as Paris concludes, he will already be pushing for the 2028 Los Angeles Games (and documenting it all on social media @frederickflips).

Khoi Young

Khoi Young at the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
© Matthew Smith/Gymnastics Now

Taking into consideration that eight of the 20 gymnasts competing at Olympic Trials are Stanford-affiliated, there is something to be said for the program’s innate ability to build champions. Khoi Young is, without question, a shining example of this.

His story of pre-collegiate success followed by enormous growth at Stanford under head coach Thom Glielmi mirrors that of Asher Hong, Brandon Briones, and countless others. Ultimately though, what sets Young apart is his consistency.

His decisive performance at the Pan American Championships, followed by a second place finish at the 2023 U.S. championships culminated in his selection for the 2023 world championships in Belgium. There, he would lead the U.S. to its first team medal in nine years before claiming silver on both vault and pommel horse. His strength on pommel horse is notable, especially in the context of selecting a team to maximize medal potential in Paris. Young is still in college and has a long career ahead of him, so we doubt this will be his first and last Olympic Trials.

Stephen Nedoroscik

Stephen Nedoroscik at the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
© Matthew Smith/Gymnastics Now

For the most unique storyline of this Olympic cycle, we turn to a specialist.

Stephen Nedoroscik is no stranger to competing at a world-class level. As a pommel horse specialist (his one and only event) and Penn State alum, he has been competing internationally for the U.S. since 2019. Earning his first FIG title with a gold medal at the 2020 Melbourne World Cup that February, he was on track to earn an individual berth to the Tokyo Games. After winning pommel horse at the 2021 U.S. championships, the final stop was Olympic Trials. There, disaster would strike, and he fell on his G Russian Flop on Day 1, landing him a 13.650. After nailing his routine on Day 2, he would end in third place on pommels, trailing Alec Yoder, who had an impressive international track record and the consistency that the selection committee was looking for. Yoder would ultimately be selected for the 2020 team, leaving Nedoroscik to regroup and work even harder for 2024. 

He wouldn’t have to wait long for his chance, however, as after putting up scores of 14.8 and 15.5 at the World Team Trials, he would be selected for the 2021 world championships in Kitakyushu, Japan. Qualifying for finals in second place, he went on to beat a stacked lineup and win the world pommel horse title by nearly four-tenths. After this unprecedented performance, he returned and trained harder than ever, claiming his second national title on pommels and competing at 2022 Worlds, finishing fifth. This momentum didn’t stop for the next two years, as Nedoroscik went on to win his third and fourth consecutive national titles. This season, he also went to the Baku World Cup, where he tied for first.

Redemption is at the heart of Nedoroscik’s story, and while his fateful performance on Day 1 of the last Olympic Trials swept away his chances at Tokyo, he is currently part of some of the top-scoring team scenarios for Paris. Two hits at these trials will go a long way in the journey to finally earning the title of Olympian.

Yul Moldauer

Yul Moldauer at the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
© Matthew Smith/Gymnastics Now

With the roster of this year’s Olympic Trials being beyond talented, the committee will need to look past just the individual meet and one-off scores to decide the Paris team (if things go to discretionary selection).

This year’s team needs to be able to compete and deliver scores under the pressure of the sport’s biggest stage. This is where Yul Moldauer, boasting one of the longest careers of any current American gymnast, comes in. Since his breakout national meet —2017 U.S. championships, where he earned his first national all-around title— his consistency has held steadfast. That season culminated in his first world championships appearance, where a cleanly executed floor set earned him the bronze with a 14.5. This momentum would carry on, culminating in four medals at the 2021 U.S. championships and punching his ticket to the 2021 Olympic Trials in St. Louis. He would go on to place second in the all-around and make the podium on four events. This, along with his previous international performances, earned him a spot on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic team. He, along with other 2024 hopefuls Brody Malone and Shane Wiskus, brought the U.S. a fifth-place finish alongside now-retired Sam Mikulak.

Since then, Moldauer has stayed busy with the DTB Pokal and Pan American Championships in 2022, where he won silver in the all-around and contributed to team victories. The moment that probably fueled Moldauer the most this quad was when he was named as the alternate for the 2022 world team. He would return to the Pan American Championships in 2023 – an event that would end up being a landmark in his career. After helping to qualify the USA to team finals, he went on a tear in event finals and won floor and parallel bars, as well as silver on high bar and bronze on pommel horse. He would then, in dominating fashion, go on to win the all-around, becoming the first American male gymnast in history to win the title. The day after, he would lead the team to a second consecutive team victory. After this, his last major stop before this upcoming Olympic Trials was the 2024 world championships in Belgium, where he, along with Fred Richard, Khoi Young, Asher Hong, and Paul Juda, ended the American medal drought and brought home team bronze.

Moldauer is one of the leaders for this U.S. men’s program, and he’s a competitor that you can never truly write off. Just looking at his results, a second Olympic appearance would be a worthy capstone to an already sensational career (although he’s already made clear his intentions to pursue LA 2028). While no athlete’s spot is guaranteed, his consistency, incredible drive, and energy will make his addition hard to pass up for the committee.

Paul Juda

Paul Juda at the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
© Matthew Smith/Gymnastics Now

While not at Stanford’s level of dominance, the Michigan Wolverines have been a feeder team for the U.S. elite program for years. Boasting more than a dozen U.S. national team members in program history, alums as prolific as Sam Mikulak and Syque Caesar are household names in the men’s gymnastics community. Paul Juda, Class of 2023, does this legacy justice.

At the 2020 Winter Cup, he won bronze on high bar and became the youngest member of the U.S. senior national team. He’s been on the national team every year since.

Juda’s first international assignment would be the 2020 Friendship and Solidarity friendly meet held during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic as a stand-in before the rescheduled Olympics. The first competition of its kind, it brought together both MAG and WAG gymnasts from Japan, China, Russia, and the United States for a cross-country faceoff between Team Solidarity and Team Friendship. Juda, along with female American Olympic hopeful Shilese Jones, emerged victorious for Team Solidarity. 

Juda competed at the 2021 Olympic Trials, placing eighth all-around. As a member of the 2023 world championships team, his scores on rings, vault, and high bar contributed to the first U.S. bronze medal in nine years. Only time will tell whether Juda puts up the scores to qualify for Paris, but, as with so many other competitors, he should never be written off.

Donnell Whittenberg

Donnell Whittenburg at the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
© Matthew Smith/Gymnastics Now

While Yul Moldauer may already have a lengthy career in his own right, there is no contest that Donnell Whittenberg is the most seasoned competitor at this Olympic Trials.

With international appearances dating back to 2012, Whittenburg helped the U.S. to a world team bronze medal behind a stacked Japanese team in 2014. At 2015 Worlds, he won bronze on vault behind Ri Se Gwang and Marian Dragulescu, namesakes of two of the most iconic vaults in the sport (Whittenburg does the Ri Se Gwang 1). He would then be selected for the 2016 Rio Olympic team as a traveling alternate, only fueling his drive to compete. After Rio, he would win medals at world cups in London and Koper in 2017, the latter being when he debuted The Whittenberg – a piked triple back on rings and the hardest dismount on still rings at H (0.8). Following a disappointing performance at the 2020 Olympic Trials, he kept training. Bouncing back with an all-around silver medal at the 2022 U.S. championships, Whittenburg’s most recent accomplishments are making the 2022 world team and qualifying to the rings final, as well as winning the Pan American Games rings title along with team gold.

At 29, Whittenburg is the oldest competitor in the field and has indicated this is likely his third and last trials (although he’s left the door open to continue competing next season). The pressure will be on to deliver and potentially end his career with a triumphant bang.

Curran Phillips

Curran Phillips at the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
© Matthew Smith/Gymnastics Now

Despite most of the attention being focused on the coveted all-around spots for Paris, the fifth spot on this team is the most interesting. Specialists with the skill and drive to represent the U.S. are a rare breed, and just as Stephen Nedoroscik has proven his dominance on pommel horse, Curran Phillips is the undisputed king of U.S. parallel bars.

A parallel bars/high bar/vault/floor event specialist (with his best event by far being p-bars), Phillips’ elite career began, as many have, with his arrival at Stanford University in 2018. Joining the senior national team in 2022 after a standout Winter Cup performance, he was selected to compete at the DTB Pokal Mixed Cup in Stuttgart, where the U.S. took first. He would go onto win first on parallel bars at the 2022 NCAA championships with a massive 15.233 before following it up with a parallel bars win at the U.S. championships, cementing his dominance on the event. Phillips would come into his own in 2023, traveling to the Baku World Cup and Pan American Championships, where he won gold on high bar. He closed last year at the Pan American Games and won his second individual gold on the international stage, this time on parallel bars.

With such steep competition at both trials and the Olympics, the committee will have the seemingly impossible distinction of picking the fifth spot. Phillips, with his strengths and medal potential, will be in the discussion until the very end.