If you’re looking for Frederick Richard on the University of Michigan’s campus, the odds are pretty good that you’ll find him at the Newt Loken Training Center. That’s where he spends most of his time these days.

Inside the walls of the chalk-filled training gym, Richard starts his day at 10 a.m. with physical therapy, followed by yoga – to keep his flexibility on point, of course. Then he heads to practice with his Michigan teammates for the next four hours, followed by one or two hours of social media content planning and filming. 

You could say Richard’s life is a full-time job – and that’s without factoring in his school schedule during the fall and winter semester, as well as media appearances as the excitement surrounding the Paris Games ramps up. 

All you need is a little bit of discipline, Richard says. 

Making his name known

You may have seen the rising men’s gymnastics star soaring to the medal podium – not just once but twice – at the 2023 World Championships in Belgium. Richard was part of the U.S. men’s historic bronze-medal effort, which ended a nine-year world medal drought, along with becoming just the fourth world all-around medalist for the American men with his bronze medal in the all-around final. 

Or perhaps you’ve seen him on social media, where he’s widely known as “Frederick Flips” across all of his platforms, which now boasts over one million followers combined. 

There’s no shortage of entertaining content on Richard’s social media pages. From competition highlights to fun challenges with teammates or other athletes on campus, it’s clear Richard has found an outlet off the competition floor where he can thrive. His charismatic personality and clever ideas have made him a fan-favorite online, which coupled with his competitive achievements, have helped propel him – and his sport – into the spotlight. 

Growing his social media following to help increase publicity for men’s gymnastics has always been one of Richard’s biggest goals, so much so that he used his national team stipend to hire two videographers when he got to campus in 2022.

Richard met his future videographers in the dorms and offered them each $750 a month to help film and edit his videos. It was the entirety of his monthly national team stipend, but worth every penny to Richard. 

“I could see the potential and what being bigger in reach can do,” Richard said. “I knew gymnastics was a sport where just competing well wasn’t going to get me the eyes I wanted to get, so I invested in that.”

Richard quickly saw a return on his investment. In the last two years, his Instagram following has grown from 8,000 to nearly 270,000. His YouTube channel went from zero subscribers to over 175,000. His TikTok sits at a comfortable 662,000. 

This has helped Richard land endorsement deals with big-time brands, along with TV appearances and once in a lifetime opportunities like sharing a couch with Meghan Trainor on the Kelly Clarkson Show

Following the Olympics, Richard will join four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and a star-studded cast on a 30-city tour designed to celebrate the sport of gymnastics. 

It all helps Richard’s mission to make men’s gymnastics relevant in a country where the women have garnered much of the attention for decades. 

“It makes me grateful the more I realized I had an opportunity with the success I’ve had to get these doors open,” Richard said. “When I came into this position, I said, ‘I want to attack it head on.’ I talked to my agent about what I’m able to handle and I said, ‘Throw it all at me and I’ll figure out the best way to manage it all.’ I want to take advantage of this opportunity to help build up the sport and bring men’s gymnastics to the level that it should be.”

Richard said he longs for the day when a random passerby can identify a male gymnast when asked. Just like one might say LeBron James when asked to name a basketball player. 

But this already is starting to happen to him. 

From time to time, Richard said he gets recognized walking around campus. 

“People will definitely come up to me and say, ‘You’re Frederick Flips right? Can I get a picture?’ or things like that,” Richard said. “It’s pretty cool.” 

And he wouldn’t have it any other way. 

A lifelong goal soon to be realized

Richard was back in the gym the day after he returned from the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships. When the Games are just around the corner, there’s no time to waste. 

Richard finished second all-around to Brody Malone, who returned to all-around competition after a serious knee injury to win his third national title. Richard also placed first on the floor exercise and second on the high bar. 

Richard started the competition in 21st after the first rotation but climbed to second by the time the first day concluded. Although he had mistakes on both days of competition, most notably on pommel horse where he admitted to feeling some nerves, Richard always maintained the belief that he could get back in medal contention. 

It’s not over until it's over. That’s the mindset Richard maintained throughout the whole competition. 

“It’s not about just winning, it's about doing the very best that you can at the moment. Every skill and every routine counts,” Richard said. “I didn’t know where I would end up in the end. I didn’t care if it was 10th, I was going to make sure I finished the best I could and as clean as possible. But I knew I’d still end up near the top as long as I kept doing what I knew how to do.”

Having Malone back in the mix not only pushes Richard to up his game, but bolsters the U.S. men’s medal chances in Paris. A U.S. man hasn't brought home an Olympic all-around medal since 2012 when Danell Leyva won a bronze. The last time the U.S. men won a team medal at the Games was a bronze in 2008.

Richard wants to change that. 

“I don’t like second place but I’m excited I was put in second place, so I can work harder and earn that first,” Richard said. “Seeing (Brody) come back really strong is exciting because it means Team USA is going to be even stronger at the Olympics. We’re such a strong team and it’s just exciting knowing whoever makes this five-man team is going to be really deadly.”

The goal in Paris is to win a medal and Richard isn’t afraid to say it. 

His historic medal achievement in his first world championships doesn’t add to the pressure either, because Richard knows he can do it again. 

“I feel like a medal is going to come. I don’t know what color medal it is, but that’s not what the focus is on anymore, because it’s going to come,” Richard said. “Success is going out there and looking like we’re having the most fun and really showing our true potential and showing how strong of a team we really are. True success is making these other countries watching across the world fall in love with team America.”

The routines he wants to compete in Paris are nearly set, aside from one potential upgrade on high bar. 

“It’s called a Liukin and that’s what I want to do in the Olympic high bar final to have a chance at winning a medal, so I might be doing that the second day of Trials to get that under pressure and get experience with it.” 

Up next for Richard is the U.S. Olympic Team Trials (June 27-30) where the top all-around gymnast – who must also place in the top three on three events – will earn an automatic berth to Paris. Four additional athletes will be named at the conclusion of the event. 

Then, if all goes according to plan, it will soon be showtime in the City of Lights – a lifelong dream come to fruition. 

If Richard could rewind the clock and talk to the younger version of himself – the kid who dreamed about raising the profile of his sport on the world’s biggest stage – his message would be pretty straightforward: Keep doing what you’re doing, trust the process and have fun through it all. 

“You’re going to be here one day,” Richard said. “Try to get better than where you are now, because being better always makes it more fun, but keep doing what you’re doing because it paid off and loving the sport is what got me here, so that’s all I really have to do.”