NORMAN – Oklahoma men’s gymnastics continues a busy summer as junior Levi Anderson and athletics trainer Zach Miller will represent the Sooners at the 2017 World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan.
Anderson will compete for Team USA, while Miller was selected as the team’s trainer throughout the competition. Along with Anderson, Illinois’ Alex Diab, Minnesota’s Tristan Duran and Vitali Kan and Stanford’s Robert Neff complete the U.S. delegation. The gymnastics portion of the games begins Aug. 19 and will conclude Aug. 23.
“The University Games is one of the premier gymnastics events. Next to the World Championships and the Olympic Games, it’s pretty impressive,” Sooner head coach Mark Williams said. “For Levi to be invited among that U.S. team, that’s an impressive accomplishment for him. He has worked hard this summer to get in top shape, not only on the events he competes for OU, but he will possibly do all six events in the all-around for Team USA. We hope he is well prepared and enjoys the experience.”
Anderson was picked as a member of Team USA through a selection committee based on performances throughout the year. Coming up on his third season for the Sooners, Anderson said participation in an event like this on an international platform will help him reach his goal making the Senior National Team.
Anderson posted his best year as a Sooner and was ranked No. 1 nationally on the high bar at the end of the regular season. Coming off surgery at the end of the year, he has strived to return to the same physical shape through summer workouts.
“For the most part, it’s more of a mental prep than anything. Physically, leading up to me having surgery, I have been in the best shape I have been since I’ve been a gymnast, and I have trusted my gymnastics more than ever before,” he said. “It was about getting back to that level and knowing that every time I put my hand up that the set is going to go the way I planned and to just truly trust my gymnastics.”
Miller was selected to serve with the Team USA staff following a similar process. After talking with assistant coach Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons after practice one day, Abdullah-Simmons realized Miller had never been outside the United States. The coach encouraged Miller to think about representing the program at the World University Games and submitted his name for consideration.
“About three or four months later we get a call and they say ‘Zach’s up,’” Miller said of his selection. “It’s kind of interesting the way it happened. I didn’t think I would get selected my first year, but I did. Taqiy did most of the leg work in all that.”
Working strictly with the gymnastics’ team, Miller’s responsibilities will be similar to his role as athletic trainer for the OU program.
“I’m going to treat it the same as I treat it here. I give 100 percent medical services to what I can do in a foreign country,” he said. “We have a medical staff too that comes with the World University Games. They will have all kind of medical supplies and a training room. Everything will pretty much be set up the same way it is here. Taiwan has an amazing medical system – similar to that of the U.S.”
One of the more unique aspects of the World University Games for the duo will be competing and working with athletes that the Sooners compete against during the collegiate season. Having competed against most of his now-fellow Team USA teammates, Anderson said he is looking forward to coming together to compete for the national team.
“One of the coolest things for me is that all of the guys a part of this team are either in the same recruiting class as me or the year before me. We have been on junior national teams together and took recruiting trips together,” Anderson said. “A lot of us are good friends, and we are really looking forward to getting out there and competing as one team. We all know we are representing separate universities, but we are looking forward to putting that together for one team – Team USA.”