NORMAN — If things go well at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, which begin Thursday in San Jose, Calif., OU junior Jake Dalton could become the first Sooner gymnast since Bart Conner to make the Olympic team while still in school.
“This is something I've been dreaming about since I was a little kid,” said Dalton, the 2012 NCAA all-around champion and an 11-time All-American.
“It would just mean everything in the world to me. All the hard work would start to be paying off. That's not where it would end though. It all pays off when Team USA goes and wins the gold. It would mean so much to me, my family, teammates the fans and coaches.”
Conner, who graduated from OU in 1981, represented the United States three times in the Summer Olympics. He helped the United States to a team gold medal in 1984 in Los Angeles, where Conner was the gold medalist on the parallel bars.
Joining Dalton at the trials will be four former OU gymnasts: 2008 Olympian Jonathan Horton, who was at OU from 2005-2008, Chris Brooks (2006-09), Steven Legendre (2008-11) and Alex Naddour (2010-11).
Dalton, Horton, Brooks, Legendre and Naddour are all current members of the U.S. National Team and advanced to the trials after their performances at the 2012 Visa Championships earlier this month.
The five Sooners make up one-third of the 15-man field vying for a spot on the five-man U.S. roster for the London Olympics.
OU has produced three Olympians in men's gymnastics and has been represented in the past two Summer Olympic Games by Guard Young in 2004 and Horton in 2008.
“The history just speaks for itself,” Dalton said. “Obviously, OU is a great place to be, a great place to train and compete, a great place to go to school and continue your gymnastics career.”
NBC Sports Network will broadcast the first day of men's competition live on Thursday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. NBC will then broadcast live coverage on television and at NBCOlympics.com of the men's final, which is Saturday at 3 p.m.