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Q & A with London-bound Syque Caesar

Erin Kirkland/Daily
Senior Syque Caesar will compete in his first Olympic Games in London this summer. Buy this photo

By Liz Nagle, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 3, 2012

Michigan men's gymnast Syque Caesar, preparing for the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, will represent Bangladesh on an invitation after winning the country’s first gold medal in international history.

At the fourth Central South Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Caesar stood on the podium for three events — he took the parallel bars crown with a score of 14.60, claimed silver on vault (14.25) and bronze on floor (13.525) — earning him the bronze medal in the all-around competition.

Before heading to London, Caesar talked to The Michigan Daily about his Olympic berth.

The Michigan Daily: How did you find out you received an invitation to represent Bangladesh in the Olympics? Did it catch you by surprise or were you expecting it?

Syque Caesar: Well, I received confirmation via e-mail that I got from the Bangladesh Olympic Association basically confirming that I’ve been selected by the International Olympic Committee in London to represent Bangladesh in the Olympics. Before that, there had been a lot of positive signs that I was going to go, like there was lots of paperwork, and I also had to fill out an eligibility conditions form. So there were a bunch of positive signs that hadn’t been confirmed until I received that e-mail.

TMD: Now that you’ve begun preparing for the biggest meet of your career, what is your training regiment like?

SC: It’s pretty intense right now. I’m coming off a (bicep) injury and it’s just pretty hectic. As of right now, Mondays and Wednesdays we have two-a-days practices, so we work out in the morning from 9:00 to 10:00. Then I also go to the weight room Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:00 to 11:00. Then right after that, Monday through Friday, I have to go to the training room and do rehab and therapy on my arm, my bicep and shoulder, and so that usually takes an hour or an hour and a half. Basically by the time I’m done with that, I have to go straight back to the gym at 1:00 p.m. and do an afternoon workout, which takes anywhere from two to four hours. So it’s basically about nonstop from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. … I’m training at the Coliseum here in Ann Arbor — that’s where the whole men’s gymnastics team trains. It’s basically the best location for me to train and my coaches are here, so I feel most comfortable training here. I have a lot of resources at my disposal to use to prepare for where I need to be for London.

TMD: Who is coaching you right now?

SC: All three coaches — the head coach is Kurt Golder and the assistant coaches are Xiao Yuan and Geoff Corrigan. Geoff is my personal coach.

TMD: Were you or your parents born or raised in Bangladesh? What kind of personal connection do you have to the country?

SC: Both my parents and my older sister were born in Bangladesh, and I and my younger brother were born in Florida. My dad, he is a permanent citizen of the United States on a green card and my mom has a U.S. citizenship. So through my father, I was able to get dual citizenship, being a U.S. citizen and a Bangladesh citizen. So through him, I was able to get the ball rolling, and that took around a year and a half to two year process just to get dual citizenship, and I started doing that back in 2010.

TMD: Given the choice would you choose to represent Team USA?

SC: In my career, I’ve had a bunch of injuries that have definitely put a damper on where I could’ve possibly been, potentially. But I always think to myself, if I didn’t have two ACL injuries and this injury within five years, or even without one or two of them, I could be a little bit more competitive, and potentially be on the U.S. team. But right now, that’s definitely very unlikely. But an opportunity presented itself.

TMD: You didn’t get the chance to compete much this season due to your recent injury, (so) do you feel prepared for something as big as the Olympic Games?

SC: I think the biggest boost of confidence and the best thing that made my gymnastics even better was competing at the World Championships and competing at the South Central Asian Gymnastics Championships back in December — those two meets alone definitely changed my attitude and behavior in how I compete and how I train. Immediately, coming out of the meet in December I just did a whole 180. I found some success and won some medals and it’s definitely helped me become a better gymnast and I became more confident. … I’m hoping to build off of that in a lot of mock meet preparation — we’ll put it in a competition format and competition setting and try to emulate as much as you can. But the biggest thing in my mind is (that) I’m going to go compete out there like it’s just another meet. If I compete out there and think, “oh man, it’s the Olympics,” then the nerves will probably get to me.

TMD: Are you feeling nervous or excited? Very few people ever make it this far in their athletic careers — what are you looking forward to the most?

SC: I’ve been keeping myself really busy and just training as much as possible, so I haven’t really had much time to really take it all in. … I’m very excited about it, that’s for sure. I’m definitely nervous, but as long as I keep the attitude of this being like any other meet, then I’m hoping the nerves won’t really get to me. … The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is to take in the whole experience. I don’t want to trick myself into thinking I’m definitely going to win a medal. I just want to take the whole experience in, being in the Olympic Village, being in London, training there, competing there.

TMD: You talked about having that exposure to international competition in recent meets — what is the atmosphere like?

SC: It’s definitely a lot different — it’s very hard to explain. There’s a lot of different things you have to be able to handle and get used to. It’s not the same as the collegiate meets, where you have a significant amount of time to warm up each event and then compete. In Bangladesh, we didn’t much time at all to warm up an event. You basically had to get ready to do your routine off one touch of the event. That really made me realize how prepared you need to be — I need to get the point where I can just get into the gym, just start warming up a little bit, stretch, just do basic swings on each event and be ready to do my routine off that.

TMD: What is your favorite past Olympic moment?

SC: One thing that sticks with me quite a bit is back in the 2004 Olympics with American gymnast Paul Hamm. After the fourth rotation on the vault, he had a huge fall and basically, anyone would say it took him out of the medals — he was in first place coming into the vault. Then he had two more events to go — parallel bars and the high bar. On the parallel bars, he knocked out a beautiful routine (and) got a really good score. And on the high bar, he basically had to do the best routine of his life if he even wanted to medal at all for bronze. He knocked out a great routine, stuck his dismount cold and that won him the gold medal — the first men’s gymnastics all-around medal for the U.S. The moment he stuck the dismount was my favorite.


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