Gopher gymnast Thomas O'Brien (Sr., Westfield, N.J.) recently picked up a third-place medal on the pommel horse at the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio. O'Brien was the final competitor to qualify for the finals on the horse, but came through with one of his best routines of the season to bring home a medal in one of the Gophers' best performances of the meet.
GopherSports.com caught up with O'Brien recently to talk about the Big Ten medal, the upcoming NCAA Championships, how he got his start in gymnastics and other topics. That interview follows:
GopherSports: How does it feel to take a third-place medal at the Big Ten Championships?
Thomas O'Brien: It's pretty awesome. I went into the (pommel horse) finals as the 10th-place person, so I knew I had nothing to lose and I hit one of my best sets that I've had all year and it felt great. I got a medal and that's more than I expected.
GS: What are your goals for the NCAA Championships?
TO: My goals for NCAA's are to make event finals in both the rings and pommel horse and hopefully All-American in one of them. As a team, make team finals.
GS: When did you start gymnastics?
TO: I started when I was two. I had a lot of energy as a little kid and my parents thought that was the best thing to do.
GS: How did you get started in gymnastics?
TO: Actually, my cousin got me into gymnastics. My aunt would babysit me and we'd go watch my cousin do gymnastics and she saw I really liked it, so they put me in gymnastics.
GS: What made you want to come to Minnesota?
TO: I really wanted to go to a Big Ten school, and out of all them that I saw, I loved it here. I'm kind of by the New York City area, so I like that the city is nearby. The team was also really great and I really like Mike Burns.
GS: What is your favorite Gopher memory?
TO: I have a lot. But I think my favorite was when we made the finals my freshman year at NCAA's.
GS: Do you have any hobbies outside of gymnastics?
TO: I really like to ski. I can't wait to get back to that. I had to stop skiing before I came to college to avoid possible injuries.
GS: What kind of music do you like to listen to?
TO: I pretty much listen to anything other than country.
GS: What are your plans for after college?
TO: I'm kind of in between pharmacy or med school or something in the medical field, so I'm taking a year off to figure all that out. Hopefully I'll make the right choice.