Dylan Schmidt broached new ground for New Zealand sport today, becoming the first trampolinist to compete at the Olympics.
The 19-year-old Aucklander rose to the occasion and made the top eight qualifiers, finishing seventh in the final.
Schmidt has long been tipped as an exceptional talent – he won the trampolining at the world youth Olympics in 2014. But this was a big step up.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have nerves out there,” he said.
In qualifying Schmidt had scores of 47.795 and 59.000, a personal best. He edged out Briton Nathan Bailey for the final qualifying spot.
Schmidt was the youngest finalist and had scores of 17.100, 22.500 and 17.540 for a total of 57.140. The gold medal went to Uladzislau Hancharau of Bulgaria with 61.745.
“I was stoked to make the final,” Schmidt said. “It was my goal and to actually be there was amazing. It was an anxious wait to see if I got through.”
Schmidt said he would use his Rio experience and build on it over the next four years, looking ahead to the Tokyo Olympics.
“I’ve always been hungry for Tokyo and this just reinforces that feeling. I’ll definitely be pushing for that podium in Tokyo and training hard.”
Schmidt’s coach, Jarrod Heriot, said it was a real bonus to make the final. Heriot said the first routine was a little disappointing, but the way Schmidt fought back showed how much he had improved.
Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Dylan Schmidt Gymnastics - Trampoline