Gluckstein brothers compete for lone Olympic spot

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.”