Gluckstein brothers compete for lone Olympic spot

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TULSA, Okla. (AP)

Steven Gluckstein earned the United States a chance to send one man to this summer's Olympics to compete on the trampoline.

That doesn't mean someone else can't outperform him and head to London in his place. Maybe even his own little brother.

Gluckstein and his brother, Jeffrey, started the Olympic qualification process this weekend with the first of three legs that will determine the lone U.S. representative on the men's side of the sport.

Steven earned the U.S. one Olympic spot by finishing 10th at a test event in London earlier this year, but that's no guarantee that he gets to go.

Instead, the New Jersey native must beat his brother and other competitors in the qualification process that included a trial Saturday night in Tulsa and also stops in Cleveland in May and in San Jose, Calif., in late June.

Steven finished first Saturday night with a score of 56.255, with his brother second at 55.650. Logan Dooley was third at 55.255.

''He's proven to be one of the best in the world, so we're currently fighting for one spot in the Olympics because only one person gets to go and one alternate,'' Steven said.

''So, it's kind of been an emotional rollercoaster trying to deal with it, because you want obviously the best for yourself but you also want the best for your family, your brother. It's been quite a ride.''

The best-case scenario for the family is that Gluckstein will get to go as an Olympian and the other as the alternate. Still, only one would get to actually compete.

''It cranks up the heat a little bit definitely,'' Jeffrey said.

Steven, 21, was the first one to get into trampoline. At age 10, his taekwondo school closed down and his parents went looking for another sport he could try. Since both his parents are no taller than 5-foot-8, they considered whether he'd want to be a jockey, a cheerleader or a gymnast.

He chose gymnastics and wound up connecting with Tatiana Kovaleva, a coach at the local gym who also happened to be a 1996 world champion in the sport. She was starting up a trampoline team and Steven joined in.

Before long, Jeffrey - now 19 - was switching from gymnastics to trampoline, too. Both were hooked almost immediately on the sport that involves bouncing as much as 30 feet into the air while performing precision twists, flips and turns.

''This is why this sport is amazing. It takes everything from balance to strength to coordination to mental alertness and quick thinking,'' Steven said. ''It's literally thousandths of a second that you have to make a significant decision. That decision could be you're going to the Olympic Games or you're not.

''That all could come down to a thousandth of a second and it's not like we have other events where we can make it up on. It's all or nothing on the trampoline.''

A three-time U.S. trampoline champion, Steven finished second at the Pacific Rim Championships in mid-March against a field with top competitors from Canada, Russia, Australia and other nations.

With the Olympic spot officially up for grabs because of his performance in London this January, Steven said ''it made my dream real.''

''I'm trying to push it almost aside, not forget about it just put it on the side and do what I do best. That's just focus on my training,'' he said. ''It's there in the back of my head always pushing me. ... I feel as though putting all the stress about you need to make the Olympics, it's almost too much pressure.''

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