NORMAN – University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics head coach Mark Williams was named the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Gymnastics head coach, USA Gymnastics announced Sunday morning.
“I am honored,” Williams said. “It’s amazing to be in a position to lead any team at the Olympic Games, and I feel we are very fortunate to have athletes that have been part of the Olympic process in the past. I’m excited about this team. I think we have a tremendous opportunity in Rio and I’m looking forward to the journey.”
Williams is making his fifth appearance at the Olympic Games but his first as head coach. He was an assistant coach in 1996 and served on staff in 2004, 2008 and 2012 as a personal coach. Williams has served as head coach for Team USA twice in World Championships, most recently in 2014 when the U.S. took bronze.
Williams will have plenty of Sooner company on Team USA. Former Sooners Chris Brooks, Jake Dalton and Alex Naddour make up three spots on the five-man U.S. roster.
“I feel very comfortable with those guys having coached them before,” Williams said. “I know they have been on championship teams and have represented the United States at World Championships and at the Olympics for Jake. They are guys that have earned their spots and in the next three or four weeks we will put in the training necessary to go to Rio very well prepared.”
Preparations for Rio will begin immediately as the Olympians return home this week to rest, rehab and begin to build for the Games. The following week Williams and the team will head to San Jose, Calif., where they will train together and meet with members of the media at the 2016 U.S. Women’s Olympic Trials. The team will then head to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., where it will spend a week training together before heading to Rio on July 27.
Williams’ role for Team USA will be much the same as the one he occupies for Oklahoma.
“I’ll be the facilitator of what the training plan is,” Williams said. “I’ll work very closely with their personal coaches in the preparation of their athletes. Their job is to make sure their athlete comes in as prepared as possible. I’ll be there making evaluations and then I’ll make the lineup and select which guys will be competing. I’ll be on the floor helping with equipment and lifting guys and managing the environment for the team. I’m sure there will be many things that I’ll do there that I do as the head coach at Oklahoma.”
Williams recently completed his 17th season at the helm for Oklahoma. He led the Sooners to a second consecutive perfect season and their 10th national title.