Adam Al-Rokh keeps career alive after injury.
After receiving multiple surgeries on both shoulders and his bicep muscle within a 12-month period, redshirt-senior all-around gymnast Adam Al-Rokh did not let injuries affect his career after sitting out his 2010 season.
“I’ve never had to sit out a whole year like that,” Al-Rokh said. “It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, it was really depressing and demoralizing.”
For some gymnasts, sitting out for a season could have a permanent effect on their careers, but it didn’t stop Al-Rokh from coming back and making a lasting impression.
Last year, Al-Rokh not only returned to the sport, but he became the only member of the men’s gymnastics team to qualify for the 2011 United States Gymnastics National Championships. Competitors from all across the country ranging from junior qualifiers, to college gymnasts and even those in the professional ranks had the opportunity to compete in St. Paul, Minn.
“To be on that stage was amazing, I don’t know if I can find one word to describe it,” Al-Rokh said. “It was exciting, but at the same time it was intimidating. I couldn’t of been more proud to get there because of all I had been through.”
Before undergoing surgery, Al-Rokh would ignore his minor injuries until they became so serious to the point where he would have to miss competitions. Now if he has even a minor ache he takes the cautious route and gets checked out immediately.
“I’ve been working mentally on eliminating the fear of messing up,” Al-Rokh said. “It’s something I’ve already been through, and I’ve made it. The key to my success is not trying to inflate what I’m doing more then it is.”
As an all-arounder, Al-Rokh competes in a total of six events – floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel and high bars – that he said works in his favor.
“Sometimes the break [between events] kills you mentally a little bit,” Al-Rokh said. “You get more of a physical rest, but mentally speaking you’re out of the game.”
Not only does Al-Rokh put in a tough dosage of work in the gym, but he has also performed in the classroom.
Recently, Al-Rokh was one of 69 gymnasts in the nation to be named as a first team All-American Scholar Athlete for attaining at least a 3.5 grade point average. The men’s gymnastics as a team was named the 2011 National Academic Team Champions by the College Gymnastics Association as the team combined for the nation’s highest GPA of 3.519.
“Sometimes the balance [between athletics and schoolwork] doesn’t happen,” Al Rokh said. “At times the most important part is realizing that there isn’t a complete balance. When there is a big test coming up, the focus goes directly towards school, and if there is a big meet coming up and your school schedule is reasonable, then that will be the focus.”
This season Al-Rokh has a lighter course load as a fifth-year senior and is responsible for 12 credits. He hopes to repeat the success he experienced last year on the gymnastics squad.
During the Owl’s first meet of the season at the Navy Open on Jan. 21, Al-Rokh played a big role in the team’s first place finish and was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference gymnast of the week.
This past weekend Al-Rokh continued his success and led the Cherry and White in all-around event with a third place finish.
After his career with the Owls, Al-Rokh said the next step is to train for the USA gymnastics team.
“I want to do this professionally for at least eight to 12 more years, and go to more than one Olympics,” Al-Rokh said. “Realistically speaking the 2016 Olympics would be my best shot.”
Chase Senior can be reached at email@example.com.