Gymnasts share fondest Olympic memories, competition day routine, one thing they’d pack for Paris

Gymnasts share fondest Olympic memories, competition day routine, one thing they’d pack for Paris
Sunisa Lee of the United States on the podium with her gold medal after winning the All-Around Final for Women at Ariake Gymnastics Centre during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, July 29, 2021, in Tokyo. (Tim Clayton /Corbis via Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) — The Olympics stage is almost set for Team USA with a marquee sport days away from securing its final rosters — men’s and women’s gymnastics.

The top American gymnasts will vie for one of of five spots each on Team USA at the Olympic team trials this week, all of them hoping for a chance to compete at the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

Prior to their capstone event in Minneapolis on Thursday, ABC News’ Good Morning America caught up with some of the athletes — including Sunisa “Suni” Lee, Kayla DiCello, Yul Moldauer and Brody Malone — at the Team USA media summit in New York City to get to know them a little better and find out about their pre-competition rituals, fondest Olympic memories and more.

Lee, one of the most decorated female gymnasts, who made history as the all-around champion gold medalist at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympic Games, is competing in front of her hometown crowd for the qualifying event after overcoming an unspecified kidney disease.

“I’m so excited, a lot of my family haven’t been able to watch me compete in person, so I think it’ll be super exciting to have all of them there,” the Saint Paul, Minnesota, native told GMA, adding that a lot of her college friends are flying in as well.

Moldauer, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, and was adopted as a baby, growing up on a farm in Arvada, Colorado, said that securing his spot on this year’s roster “would mean the world.”

“Being adopted, I always think of my life now is a blessing — to pursue what I get to do and love it is a dream come true,” he said. “So, to represent the country that has given me that opportunity, it’s just an honor.”

Getting to know Team USA gymnastics hopefuls

What’s your fondest or earliest Olympic memory?

Lee recalled watching a legendary performance from the Fierce Five at the 2012 London Games: “Watching McKayla Maroney stuck vault was something that I will always remember — all my teammates we were having a sleepover and we all were just, like, in shock that she just stuck like this perfect vault.”

DiCello, who traveled to the Tokyo Olympic Games as a U.S. alternate, recalled “being on vacation in Florida and the Olympics were going on, and I was just pointing at the TV [saying], ‘That’s what I want to do one day, I want to become an Olympian — I want to compete at the Olympics for Team USA.'”

Referencing the Beijing Games, in which the men’s team won bronze, Malone said, “As a kid I remember watching the 2008 Olympics and the team finals. That was really good.”

For Moldauer, who made his own Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games and placed sixth in the men’s floor exercise, the 2008 games were also important.

“I actually got to watch my coach now at the 2008 Olympic Games on pommel horse, and he helped his team secure a bronze medal,” he said. “I remember watching him and that entire quad … I was jumping up and down crying, and I said, ‘I want to feel that moment someday in my life.'”

What’s your favorite pre-competition pump-up music?

Lee, who also won bronze for the uneven bars in Tokyo, said she listens to “anything Drake,” while DiCello couldn’t pick just one pre-routine jam.

Malone, 24, selected “Body Bag” by Machine Gun Kelly.

“‘You & Me’ by Flume,” 27-year-old Moldauer said, referring to the Australian DJ’s remix of the hit Disclosure track.

What’s your go-to meal before you compete?

“I am a big soup girly, so I always have to have chicken noodle soup and a Caesar salad,” Lee said.

“The night before,” DiCello said, “I like to eat salmon.” 

As for the big day, she said, “I like to have yogurt in the morning and then a Caesar salad later.”

“I normally eat a sandwich before the meet — usually something pretty healthy like turkey and cheese, nothing crazy,” said Malone, who competed in six events at the Tokyo Games.

Moldauer, who previously competed in Tokyo, said he keeps it simple on competition day: “Fruit and at least two eggs,” he said.

Who’s the first person you call or text after a competition?

“Kayla,” Lee said without hesitation, referring to her fellow Paris hopeful, DiCello.

DiCello said she typically contacts her parents. 

“Either my mom or dad,” she said.

“My fiancee,” Malone said.

“My dad, mom and then my coaches,” Moldauer said.

Favorite motivational quote or advice from a coach?

“Stay humble and keep your head down and do your job,” Malone said.

“If you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful,” Moldauer said. “As a kid, I would just look up motivational YouTube videos, and I would watch them, and that quote has stuck with me.”

What’s one item you couldn’t travel without?

“Probably my charger so that my phone doesn’t die,” DiCello said with a laugh.

“My pillow, I can’t sleep without my pillow — it’s memory foam,” Malone said.

Moldauer chose the most practical item. 

“My grips,” he said of his gym equipment.

What other Olympic sport are you most excited to watch at the Paris Games?

When they’re not supporting their fellow gymnasts, each of the athletes said they’re looking forward to cheering on the competitors at different Olympics events.

Lee said she was most excited to watch the track and field competition, while DiCello said diving and Moldauer picked breakdancing.

The 2024 Olympic Team Trials for gymnastics begin June 27 and run through June 30.

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