When you watch Alexi Shostak take to the trampoline in Tokyo, you will see a high-level gymnast complete incredible acts of acrobatics. It’s a competition, and he wants to bring home a medal for the United States. However, it’s not just about earning high scores from the judges.
When everything is clicking correctly, and Shostak is using the apparatus to ascend, you’re also witnessing a bit of meditation.
“When you get into the flow and the zone kind of thing, it really does feel like weightless, like flying,” said Shostak, 26. “It's a magical moment. You get it all right, so it's very thrilling.”
Shostak found himself in the gym at a young age. His father Aliaksandr competed for Belarus in men’s gymnastics in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. When his parents were invited to the U.S. to become coaches at a gym in Louisiana, the family immigrated. Little Alexei found himself at the gym, eyeing the trampoline.
“I started with men's artistic, following the footsteps of my dad, but I remember being a little boy and there's a trampoline always staring at me in the corner while I was doing the men's side of it, and I just wanted to go jump on it,” Shostak said. “That was it. I just wanted to go jump on it all the time.”
When his mother started a tumbling and trampoline program, he had found his sport. Jumping on that trampoline as a kid led to Shostak competing for the U.S all over the world. He finished 10th at the world championships in 2019, just outside qualifying for the finals.
Trampoline has been in the Olympics since 2000, but an American has never won a medal in it. He wants to change that in Tokyo.
“My goal is to get an Olympic medal,” Shostak said. “It's been my dream for quite a long time now. And just leave it all out there and do what I know I'm capable of doing and let the rest lay itself out.”
As he prepares for the Tokyo Games, Shostak knows he won’t have his parents cheering for him in the stands. But he does know that he can turn to his father for advice about how to handle the pressure of the Olympics.
“He's been through the ringer, and he understands the commitment, the focus that it requires,” Shostak said. “And so anytime I'm troubled, I go to him as my second guru.”