By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The 2013 World Championships are set to begin today in Antwerp, Belgium. Gymnasts from countries across the globe will be on hand for the next seven days, competing for medals and glory.
Two looking for their first medals in the competition are former Sooners Jake Dalton and Steven Legendre. Despite having participated in past world championships, neither has been able to secure any hardware for their efforts.
Oklahoma coach Mark Williams, who will be coaching both at the championships, thinks it’s time that changed.
"I think Steve and Jake have proven they can make event finals at the World Championships or Olympic games,” Williams said. “Both have done that. We’re in the position where we are looking for medals now. They’ve shown they are capable of being in that position and contending. Our preparation has been all about whether we can up in the finals and take that final step and get up in the award stand.”
Dalton and Legendre are part of the six-man team USA squad. The last time either competed internationally was during the Olympic games. They are looking forward to getting back on the world stage to showcase their skills. This year’s World Championships is an individual event championship, which means there is not a team event, and each country may enter three athletes in each event.
“Expecting it to be a huge competition just because the world championships basically has guys from all over the world,” Dalton said. “More than Olympic games. It’s not as high caliber as the Olympics, but there is more people. So technically it’s a harder competition. We are hoping to go out there and get few medals.”
The world championships are especially important for Legendre, who has been battling injuries since the Olympics. They include having his elbow scoped and having a rod placed in his leg for a stress fracture.
“It’s very exciting,” Legendre said. “Kind of coming off a few injuries this year. So things slowed down for a while. Just glad to be out there again, especially on that world stage. Looking forward to competing with Team USA.”
Williams said Legendre is starting to come back to his old form.
“He had some struggles coming back,” Williams said. “Four weeks out of the U.S. championships, I was really concerned that he hadn’t had enough time. The rod in his leg, the surgery to his elbow put him behind since the Olympics. The last four weeks, he kind of put it all together, put it out on the floor, and made the world team. Since then, he’s been great.”
Dalton also enters the tournament with a different frame of mind. This will be his third world championships so he enters as a veteran.
“This year I feel more prepared,” Dalton said. “I have bigger competitions under my belt. Little more experience. Been to the Olympics. Kind of understand how everything works. Know what to expect. Just think I really prepared myself to go out to be able to compete at the best level I can and potentially get some medals.”
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