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Who is... Alex Naddour

Alex Naddour on the still rings at the 2013 National Championships
USA Today Sports

Who is... Alex Naddour

Naddour, the top U.S. gymnast on the pommel horse, is married to a two-time world champion and recently became a father.

25-year-old Alex Naddour is a four-time national champion on the pommel horse, and his skills have helped the U.S. men win bronze medals in the team event at the 2011 and 2014 World Championships. An alternate on the 2012 Olympic team, Naddour improved his results on still rings and floor to make himself a more versatile athlete in the lead-up to Rio. It paid off when Naddour was named one of five members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic men's gymnastics team.

Gymnastics Beginnings

Born in Gilbert, Arizona, Alex Naddour began gymnastics at 3 years old with the same coach he still trains with today: his father, Mike. His parents own the USA Youth Fitness Center, which has two locations in Gilbert and Queen Creek, located east of Phoenix.

 

Breakout Moment

Naddour left Arizona to attend the University of Oklahoma, and claimed the NCAA title on the pommel horse two consecutive times (2010 and 2011). In 2011, he proved to be not just the best college gymnast on the pommel horse but the best U.S. gymnast when he won the first of four national titles on the notoriously tricky event.

He made his world championships debut in 2011, and competed only on the pommel horse in the team final. With Naddour’s help—he was one of only two men who scored over 15 points on the pommel horse—the U.S. men claimed a team bronze medal. Individually, Naddour ranked ninth on the pommels in the qualification round, leaving him just one spot short of qualifying for the event final.

Olympic Experience

Leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, Naddour opted to leave the University of Oklahoma so he could get more individualized training back home in Arizona. With his dad again his coach, Naddour won the pommel horse title at both the national championships and 2012 Olympic Trials.



Alex Naddour at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials

Alex Naddour at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials. Credit: USA Today Sports

But Naddour’s excellence on one event wasn’t enough to get him onto the Olympic team—instead, he was named as a non-competing alternate.

“When I didn’t get named, I went out in the hall and saw my wife and saw my mom, and was like ‘Dang, that stinks,’” Naddour said. “But then looking back on it... it was actually a blessing for me just because I was able to go see what it’s all about, but also realize that my life is good."

Naddour and the other two alternates, Chris Brooks and Steven Legendre, watched from the stands as the U.S. men began strong the London Olympics strong by finishing first in the qualification round. But then during the team final, they made a series of mistakes, particularly on pommel horse, to finish a disappointing fifth.

"Sadly they didn't end up with a medal which was really hard to watch. Watch them mess up on horse, which is an event that I [excel on], I was like 'Aw, man!' So it was really tough at that moment as well."


Alex Naddour on watching the London Olympics as an alternate

Major Competitions

Naddour’s biggest takeaway from London was the motivation to continue competing for another four years. “I probably would have been done after” London, he said. “And I went to three more world championships and get another world medal, so it’s been good to keep going.”

Naddour competed on at the 2013, 2014 and 2015 World Championships, and won another team bronze medal with the U.S. men at the 2014 Worlds. He also continued to build his reputation as one of the world’s best pommel horse workers, qualifying for the final in both 2014 and 2015. He finished sixth in 2014 and seventh in 2015.

Naddour hoped to clinch his fifth pommel horse title at the 2016 P&G Championships, the last competition before the U.S. men’s gymnastics Olympic Trials. But Naddour, usually so consistent on his best event, fell off the horse during a complex sequence of skills and ultimately finished sixth. But the silver lining of the competition came elsewhere; by finishing fourth on both floor exercise and still rings, Naddour proved that he was not the same “one-trick pony” that he was in 2012.

Olympic Trials Highlights  

Before the 2016 Olympic Trials, Naddour’s wife washed his uniform in the same detergent she uses for their baby daughter’s clothing. He smelled it during the competition to remind himself what was at stake and why he was working so hard: for his family.

With four-month old Lilah wearing a “Team Naddour” onesie up in the stands, Naddour hit both his pommel horse routines, put up the third best scores on still rings, and also ranked in the top eight on floor and vault. This time, it was more than enough to earn him a long-coveted spot on an Olympic team.

Records Held

Naddour is the first Arizona-based gymnast to be named to an U.S. Olympic team.  



Alex Naddour at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials

Alex Naddour after being named to the Rio Olympic team at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. Credit: USA Today Sports

Signature

Naddour had the most difficult pommel horse routine at the U.S. Olympic Trials, competing a routine with a start value of 16.800 points. He’s improved his difficulty score by one-tenth from last year’s world championships, and is approaching the difficulty levels of the top pommel horse workers in the world. The 2015 pommel horse world champion, Max Whitlock, has a start value of 17.300. 

Top Quotes

"[My baby daughter has] been awesome, actually helped my training a lot. After long days and stuff I can go home and I’m sitting in my house with my daughter, and realize that life is good. It’s really helped calm my nerves and help me realize that this is supposed to be something fun! This is fun, stop worrying so much, have fun out there and enjoy it because you got a great life."
— Alex Naddour

Outside the Gym

When a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, Naddour noticed another gymnast—a senior woman who happened to be a two-time world championships gold medalist. Not one to be intimidated, Naddour asked out Hollie Vise and the pair quickly became a gymnastics power couple.

They married in May of 2015 and Vise currently coaches young female gymnasts at the same gym where Naddour trains. In February 2016, Vise gave birth to a baby girl, Lilah Kate.

“We kind of had an agreement,” Naddour said. “If we were going to go for [a baby] before the Games that she would have to take over things. And she really has.”

Naddour spends the end of each, after his training is completed, with the baby, but when he goes to bed it’s on the opposite side of the house from Vise and Lilah. “I’m probably sleeping more now than I was” before the baby, Naddour added at championships. “So it’s been a huge blessing to have her do that for me.”

And mentally, Naddour says that being a father has only benefited his gymnastics career. "Each set I'm doing, it's not just for me or for my wife or friends, family. It's for my daughter."

Gymnast Alex Naddour has a new baby and an old Olympic dream

An Olympic alternate in 2012, Naddour says his four-month-old daughter is his biggest motivation as he goes for Rio.

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Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Naddouralex

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Alex_Naddour

Instagram: https://instagram.com/alex_naddour

How to watch 

You can watch Alex Naddour at the 2016 Rio Olympics starting Wednesday, August 3rd as the U.S. men’s gymnastics team begin podium training, a non-judged session to practice their routines before the competition begins. The U.S. men will go in subdivision 2, starting at 1:30pm ET. 

Naddour's Olympics will officially begin on Saturday, August 6th at 1:30pm ET in the men’s qualification session.  

 The team final will take place on Monday, August 8th at 3pm ET

If Naddour qualifies for the event finals, the men’s floor and pommel horse finals will be held on Sunday, August 14th at 1pm ET, the men's rings and vault finals will be held on Monday, August 15th and the men's parallel bars and horizontal bars finals will be held on Tuesday, August 16th.

Gymnastics

Everything you need to know about the 2016 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team

Simone Biles | Gabby Douglas | Laurie Hernandez | Madison Kocian | Aly Raisman | Chris Brooks | Jake Dalton | Danell Leyva | Sam Mikulak | Alex Naddour

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