Michael Devine’s first bounce on a competitive trampoline was taken 13 years ago at J&J Tumbling and Trampoline School in Pecatonica. But now, Devine, who is ranked No. 1 in men’s trampoline, has just one final obstacle standing between him and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Michael Devine’s first bounce on a competitive trampoline was taken 13 years ago at J&J Tumbling and Trampoline School in Pecatonica.
“Michael liked it right away,” his mother, Mary Devine, said. “He was very flexible.”
Now, Michael, who began the sport as a way to keep active, could turn it into an Olympic dream, as he competes in next week’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Kansas City, Mo.
Devine, who is ranked No. 1 in men’s trampoline, has one final obstacle standing between him and Beijing. Only one male and one female will be chosen from the United States to be on the men’s and women’s trampoline team.
Devine placed second in two of his three Olympic qualifiers this year, but recently rose to the top after his top competitors struggled.
“The plan for this year was to stay consistent and not add any new skills,” Devine’s coach Shaun Kempton said. “It obviously has paid off, while other guys have been inconsistent.”
Not getting overexcited or nervous is Devine’s focus when the trials begin Tuesday.
“I will treat it like every other competition,” Devine said. “I just go in there and stick with the plan. Do the routines and hope everything goes as planned. It’s a lot of competition. A lot of people think of pressure as a negative thing. You can’t get that type of pressure anywhere else. It’s cool to be able to deal with that type of pressure.”
Over the past two months, Devine has increased his training sessions from two to four hours a day. The Beloit College student juggled his studies while becoming a world-class athlete.
Kempton said Devine’s rise to the top has been through hard work and dedication.
“He was definitely put on this track right away from the start,” said Kempton, a former Australian champion and USA men’s trampoline coach. “If you don’t plan that far back, it won’t happen down the line.”
Devine, 20, established his reputation in the sport at the right time. In 2000, trampoline became an Olympic sport. By that time, Devine was a member of the junior national team and he landed on the senior national team in 2005.
Mary Devine said she had no idea that when she and her husband, John, signed their son up for gymnastics it would lead him on an Olympic path.
“No way,” she said. “The coach mentioned they were trying to make it be an Olympic sport. That’s when we really started to get excited.”
For a time there, it seemed the Devine family would have two sons hoping to qualify for the Olympics. Michael’s younger brother, Philip, spent 10 years in trampoline before becoming a high school state champion diver last November.
Now, Michael Devine is on the verge of an Olympic selection.
“I think about what I would be doing if I wasn’t in this sport,” he said. “I can’t imagine it. The sport teaches you so much about yourself like self confidence, determination, mental toughness and what you can do with hard work.”
Brenda Young can be reached at (815) 987-1388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.