Michigan gymnastics coaches living out dreams for different nations at London Olympics
For the past four years, University of Michigan men’s gymnastics coaches Kurt Golder and Geoff Corrigan have worked together as head coach and assistant coach, respectively. Next week in London, the two will be coaching on opposite teams and neither could be happier.
“I’ve never been to the Olympics. I trained my whole life, too, and I lived at the Olympic training center for three and a half years to try and make the 2008 Olympics,” said Corrigan a former All-American at Michigan. “For me it’s a big deal; this is what I’ve been striving for my whole life.”
Photo courtesy of Michigan athletics
“I remember being in a gym one day at summer camp, and I said one day I was going to coach in the Olympics. I never gave up on it,” Golder said.
When Mikulak was named to the national team, Golder realized his dream had just come true.
“The first thing I said to him was ‘thank you’. I was just overwhelmed with happiness. I wanted to thank him for helping me to realize a dream,” Golder said.
“Once they announced me on the team, he came over and said ‘thank you’ to me,” Mikulak said.”And I was like ‘No coach, thank you. You’ve done so much for me and I have you to thank for me being here right now.’”
Mikulak confessed it was a goal of his to help get his coach to the Olympics.
“He’s told me before that he’s never coached an Olympic gymnast, and I always thought I could push to be that guy,” Mikulak said. “Kurt was always there, and he always wanted the best for me. I always appreciated everything he’s ever done.
While at the games, the coaches will remain hands-off during the team portion of competition, with the majority of their work coming behind-the-scenes. If either gymnast qualifies for individual competition, he will be allowed to have a personal coach with him on the floor.
Golder and Mikulak left Thursday for London, while Caesar and Corrigan will leave on Saturday. As the July 27 opening ceremony draws nearer, the realization of their dreams is setting in.
“I think its gradual process. You realize it more and more, so it’s continually sinking in,” Golder said. “I’m certainly well aware of what lies ahead.”
Even though maintaining a focus on gymnastics is the top priority for both coaches, they also want to make sure they take in the entire experience of being an Olympic mentor.
Golder admitted that even before leaving for London, he's looking forward to his return and what likely awaits on a football Saturday. At Michigan Stadium, it's a longstanding tradition to honor athletes and coaches with significant accomplishments in other sports in front of the home crowd during breaks in the action and Golder expects to receive that honor.
“Nothing will compare to the Olympic Games,” he said. “But being out in front of 115,000 people and being introduced as an Olympian representing the University of Michigan, I look forward to that day.”