Sophomore physics major Robin Klause was named the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs’ Men’s Open Division Modified NCAA pommel horse national champion on April 8.
There were originally 90 competitors in the event, and only the top 10 made it to finals. Klause placed first in the preliminary round, which was a surprise to him.
“I was like ‘oh my gosh, I could win this,’ and I just got really nervous," Klause said. "I just thought ‘don’t mess up, I can win this. Just do what you did before,’ and that was really exciting.”
Klause has been doing gymnastics for almost 14 years, both in the U.S. and in Germany, where he is originally from. His parents and grandparents were also gymnasts.
He made the finals in four events last year and four events this year, in addition to his championship win.
The gym the club practices at, Cole Academy, had no pommel horse two years ago when Klause joined, so he got one.
“That’s been one of my favorite events for the past couple years so I was like oh, [a pommel horse] isn’t too hard to get, it doesn’t take up that much room, maybe I can get one somehow,” Klause said. “My mom’s a judge and there’s another judge that rents out equipment, so my mom asked him if he has an old pommel horse that he would sell … we bought the pommel horse, he delivered it to the gym and now I got a pommel horse. That was really exciting.”
Klause said pommel horse is very frustrating because it takes a lot of time to learn new skills, but mastering a new skill gives him a good feeling.
Klause mostly coaches himself and said after being in the sport for so long, he has learned how his previous coaches teach. He had three coaches here in the U.S. and only one in Germany. At Ball State, he mostly coaches himself.
“I just kind of know how it works and a lot of times when I make mistakes, I notice myself and I know how to fix them pretty well. When I watch others, I can tell them what they need to improve on and sometimes others can help me too,” Klause said. “They kind of know what it’s supposed to look like, so they can help me when it doesn’t look like it’s supposed to.”
Jeremy Taylor, a junior landscape architecture major, has been in the gymnastics club all three years it has existed and is currently the vice president of the club. He runs practice, makes conditioning workouts and schedules meets.
“You get to meet people from all other clubs all across the country [at nationals] and we’ve had somebody final every year somehow with our club being so small,” Taylor said.
Taylor competed in three events and used new skills that he just learned this year. He and Klause help each other, but Taylor did not coach him in pommel horse. Taylor watched Klause compete at nationals with anticipation.
“He had a really good prelims routine and then at finals, we were all standing there shaking watching him, like please hit this routine … we know you can do it,” Taylor said. “He had a little bit of a wobble in prelims but as soon as he did that skill at finals and it was very smooth, I was like ‘oh my gosh, he can do it, he can do it.’”
At the conclusion of Klause’s routine, the team started screaming and checking the scores, which weren’t fully posted until the banquet.
“It was just extremely exciting, I was so happy that I accomplished this goal [of winning],” Klause said. “This year I thought maybe I could win this event … I had the hopes to win so then when I found out that I won, I was really happy and excited.”
The Gymnatics Club practices three times a week. Interested students can email email@example.com for more details.