If the Olympic gymnastics trials at San Jose’s SAP Center in July felt more like finals week, the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions on Sunday was kind of like the after-party.
With a performance that felt like a cross between Cirque du Soleil and Dancing With the Stars, a star-studded roster headlining the who’s who of gymnastics flipped, danced and glided their way to thunderous applause from a sold-out audience.
The highlight of the 36-city tour was of course four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, who performed her gold medal-winning floor routine in her Swarovski-studded Olympic leotard, as well as gold medalists Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Gabby Douglas. But it’s safe to say that it was the male gymnasts – including the five that make up the U.S. Olympic men’s gymnastics team – who stole the show, showing off their sculpted physiques and chiseled abs as they performed impossible acrobatic maneuvers to everything from Coldplay to “Uptown Funk” to “the Sound of Silence.”
At one point, the men invited women from the audience to dance with them to “Unchained Melody,” sending multiple hearts aflutter. It’s no secret that the men’s team is trying to step out of the shadow of the women’s team, both on and off the gymnastics floor. In fact, team captain, Sam Mikulak, went as far as to tell the Wall Street Journal that they wouldn’t mind being objectified, and even go as far as to perform in the Olympics with their shirts off.
In one particular magical sequence, all five gymnasts on the men’s Olympic team joined the women’s Olympic team to perform stunning acrobatics on the Olympic rings hanging from the roof of the SAP center. They were joined by the acrobatic gymnastics duo Tiffani Williams and Axel Osbourne, 2016 Olympic trampoline gymnasts Nicole Ahsinger and Logan Dooley, and Olympic gold medalists Jordan Wieber, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin.
Biles, Raisman, Douglas and Hernandez performed a stripped-down version of their Olympic routines – it was obvious that without the pressures that come with being an Olympic athlete, when your every move is scrutinized 24/7, the team was having fun. One of the coolest parts of the show was when Hernandez invited a six-year-old aspiring gymnast named Alexis on stage, and along with Biles, showed her how to do a backflip.
“San Jose give it up for Alexis!” cheered Hernandez, the first U.S.-born Hispanic woman since 1984 to qualify for the U.S. gymnastics Olympic team.
For the hundreds of aspiring gymnasts who showed up to watch the gymnasts, the Kellogg’s Tour was a reminder of how high you can soar if you are determined.
"It's really special to see all the girls screaming and going crazy because I remember being just like them," Raisman told NBC Bay Area during an interview at a San Jose gym over the weekend. "I was the little girl that wanted to go the Olympics. I see myself in them so it's really incredible."
Raisman made sure her fans understood that the Olympics is more hard work than fun.
"It's important for them to remember that if you're having a rough day, if it's not coming together, it's OK," Raisman said. "It's all about working hard. It's all about the process to get there and it's all about giving it your all."