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Australia’s Bull Charges Toward Tokyo 2020
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Australia’s Tyson Bull, who earned a quota spot to this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo by making the high bar final at the World Championships in Stuttgart last fall, has devised an industrious two-tiered strategy for a shot at a medal in Tokyo.

Born May 21, 1993, in the Melbourne suburb of Wantirna, Bull trains under coach Vladimir Vatkin. From 2015-2018 he competed for the University of Illinois in the U.S., where he studied kinesiology. Bull’s older brother, Jayden Bull, also competed at the international level.

Bull’s advancement to the Stuttgart final, in which he finished seventh after a fall, follows in his other international breakthroughs on the event. Also last year he placed fifth on high bar at the World Cup in Melbourne and eighth on high bar at the World Cup in Baku. He was third reserve for the high bar final at the 2018 Worlds in Doha.

In this International Gymnast Online interview, Bull reflects on his Olympic berth and shares his plan of action for performing at his best this summer in Tokyo.

IG: Where were you when you learned you earned the spot for Tokyo, and about whom or what did you first think?

TB: We competed in the second session on day two of qualifications (in Stuttgart), and after competing I was in fifth position. There were only two more sessions left in quals so I stuck around to watch for the next five or six hours. It came down to the last two gymnasts in the last rotation of the last session, both of whom with the potential to knock me out. I was in the crowd with my team completely on edge with my heart beating like crazy. The last score came in and I lost it, completely at a loss for words and what to think. Twenty years in the sport all coming down to one moment, and more than anything I felt like I was repaying all my coaches, mentors and especially family for all the long hours, sacrifices and hard work that’s gone into achieving this one goal. I probably had only a few hours sleep the following two nights because I was so wired and still trying to process the whole thing.

IG: What do you think caused your fall in the final, and what changes to your technique or mental approach have you made to avoid it going forward?

TB: I think more than anything it was an over-adjustment from my qualifying routine. In qualifications my connection was a little off and messy, and in the final I was trying to put everything perfect and not hold back. Unfortunately I toed the line a little too hard on the first release and fell. Moving forward I still want to approach the routine in much the same way — not holding back and not playing safe— maybe just with a little more emphasis on that mindset in training so it's natural in the final.

IG: The competition to make the final in Tokyo is likely to be the most competitive yet, so what will you need to make it? For example, as you looking to upgrade your D-score, E-score or a different strategy?

TB: Ideally both. I'm working on a few upgrades that I'm planning on trialing during the World Cup series. From there I can get a better idea of what’s viable and has the best risk versus reward for potential Tokyo routines. Ideally I'll have a separate qualifications and final sets with the potential for challenging for a medal. Working on bringing the E-score up is always a constant battle and just as important if not more so than the D-score, so I am pushing hard for every 10th on that end.

IG: With injuries to key teammates Chris Remkes and Clay Stephens in the past year, how are you coping with the responsibility you have as the "name and face" of Australian gymnastics in this Olympic year?

TB: For now there haven't been too many media responsibilities — just a few things here and there. I'm sure it will ramp up with the Melbourne World Cup (February 20-23) and as we get closer to Tokyo, but for the most part I am just taking it all in and enjoying the ride. I am definitely looking forward to one of my teammates potentially claiming the continental quota spot (via the Pacific Alliance Championships in April).

IG: Although your Tokyo quota spot is for high bar, what are your plans for training full-strength on the other apparatuses between now and Tokyo? Or will you train only on high bar?

TB: For the most part my training centers on high bar quite heavily, with an eye on the final and a medal. However, I'm still training parallel bars and pommel horse for fitness and haven't ruled out competing them in Tokyo so long as they don't hinder my high bar chances.

International Gymnast magazine’s recent coverage of Australian gymnasts includes:

“Enterprising Aussies” - Georgia-Rose Brown/Emma Nedov dual interview (July/August 2019)

Maddie Leydin profile (April 2017)

Rianna Mizzen profile (April 2017)

“Aussie Ace” - Philippe Rizzo update (October 2017)

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