Who are the two Black male gymnasts making moves?

Written by on October 5, 2023

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It’s no secret that Black girls have been making waves across gymnastics, but some Black boys deserve recognition, too, specifically in that wide-ranging sport.

The Black Wall Street Times reported that Fred Richard and Khoi Young helped Team USA secure bronze in this year’s Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, marking the first time since 2014 that America’s men’s team won a well-earned medal.

While Richard, the defending 2023 U.S. high bar champion, jeopardized the team’s medal prospects in the qualification round, he made a comeback when it came down to clinching the team medal, posting an outstanding score of 14.533 on the high bar, the highest among all team participants.

(From left) Silver medal winner Khoi Young, gold medal winner Asher Hong and bronze medal winner Fred Richard pose for a picture following Day Three of the U.S. Gymnastics Championships at SAP Center on Aug. 26 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Young’s unshakable consistency on the vault, along with his flawless execution, added 14.666 points to Team USA’s total. He also topped the U.S. team in the pommel horse with a score of 13.600, the highest among his colleagues.

Richard, now the youngest U.S. athlete to win a medal in a global gymnastics competition, clinched the win for Team USA on high bar, nailing his landing to overtake Great Britain for third place.

Japan scored 255.594, and the People’s Republic of China had 253.794, putting them first and second, respectively. Still, Team USA’s collective success with 252.428 points marks the fourth world champion team medal for the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics team.

The accomplishments of Young, Richard and their teammates Asher Hong, Paul Juda and Yul Moldauer wouldn’t be possible without several Black male athletes who dominated the sport all those decades ago.

Black teen joins first-ever gymnastics team at Talladega College, an HBCU

In 1968, the same year a white man assassinated Martin Luther King Jr., James Kanati Allen became the first African-American gymnast named to an Olympic squad, according to Worthing Gymnastics Club. Allen’s appointment came when the Civil Rights Movement made significant strides toward equality.

Louis Smith became the second Black male gymnast to win an individual Olympic medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was the first British athlete to win an Olympic medal since the women’s team in 1928. 

At the age of 20, Joe Fraser became Great Britain’s first Black male gymnast to win a World Championships gold medal. His achievement in Stuttgart 2019 made him the third British champion in history and the youngest to do it.

Like Young and Richard, he has more to come.

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