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Jeffrey Gluckstein leads U.S. men in Olympic trampoline bid

Jeffrey Gluckstein
USA Today Sports

Jeffrey Gluckstein leads U.S. men in Olympic trampoline bid

How Jeffrey Gluckstein is approaching the U.S.' final chance to qualify for trampoline at the Olympics.

Four years ago, the U.S. earned one Olympic berth in men's trampoline and both Gluckstein brothers wanted it. It was the older brother, Steven, who ultimately won the spot. This year, the men of U.S. trampoline are again set to earn a single Olympic spot, based on their performances at the Rio Test Event on Tuesday, April 19th in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  

But it's the younger brother, Jeffrey Gluckstein, who was chosen to compete at the Rio Test Event. He'll be joined by another American, Logan Dooley, while Steven Gluckstein watches, and cheers, from home in Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

All three men, plus more Olympic hopefuls including the alternate athlete at the Rio Test Event, Aliaksei Shostak, will have to wait until after the trampoline national championships in July to find out who will actually represent Team USA at the Olympics. 

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At the Pacific Rim Championships in early April, Jeffrey Gluckstein told NBC Olympics how he's feeling leading up to Rio and why going to the Test Event gives him a competitive advantage over the sport's world champions.  

How do you feel this year as opposed to four years ago, leading up to the London Olympics?

I feel like right now, my head's in the right place. I'm older, I'm more mature, I've gained experience that I didn't have in my younger years. So I'm really looking forward to this year and what I have to give.

What are your goals for the Pacific Rim Championships?

Definitely include making finals, and I hope to hit a personal best on my score.

Do you know, off the top of your head, what your best Time of Flight score is? [Time of Flight measures the amount of time spent in the air, or not touching the trampoline, during a routine.]

In competition? I would say my best in competition would be 18.5, around there.

How do you differ from your brother as a competitor?

We both have different kinds of styles. He's a little bit more, I mean we're both focused but I'm a little bit more laidback when it comes to the training and competition. I mean, I do take everything very seriously, but there's a part of me where I don't like to overthink and get inside my own head.

What's your favorite movie quote?

I like a lot of comedy movies so Stepbrothers is a pretty good funny movie that I have memorized. We'll do an Adam Sandler movie, probably from Mr. Deeds... I like the one scene with the crazy guy, with the crazy eyes, he goes "peanut butter and gumballs, nice combo!"

After a typical training day, what's the family dynamic like at your home?

Training shuts off when we get home from the gym. We usually have different types of outlets, like if a baseball game is one we watch the Yankees play. If it's in the fall, watch the Giants play. So our home is essentially away from our first home, which is the gym, just because we basically live in the gym.

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And you coach trampoline, too, correct? How long have you been coaching?

 I've been coaching since I've been 17, so six years now. I coach all ages, from 18 months to adults who are in their 60's.

How do you coach an 18-month-old?

You don't really coach them, you kind of let them run their own course. You give them jump ropes to play with, you give them a ball to throw or you have a mat down, you have a bounce on the mat with them. So it's just going through different motions with them.

And you're headed to the Test Event in Rio soon, right?

We're still in the process of deciding who will jump and who will be alternate, so as of right now emotions are running a little bit high. There's definitely a pressure, but I believe that hard work will pay off and I'll be the one who will get USA the Olympic spot.

Will you have time in Rio to sightsee?

As of right now, I don't think we'll have that much time to go out. It's a pretty quick trip, we are staying on the beach side, which is nice. But if we do, I'd like to see the statue, Christ the Redeemer.

Are there advantage to going to Test Event? [The top eight finishers are the 2015 World Championships qualified directly to the Rio Olympics and do not need to compete at the Test Event.]

Oh definitely, it'll definitely put the gears in motion. The mindset of the Olympics. You'll be in the arena, you'll have that energy from the crowd, you'll see familiar faces who you will be competing against in the Olympics. So it's definitely a good experience to have. It's definitely a one-up.

And finally, what Chinese athletes do you think will be in Rio?

I believe that Dong Dong will be back, This isn't his time to be done. I'd say Dong Dong and Gao Lei. 

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