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
”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
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
”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.”