Olympic Hopeful Joe Kovacs Uses Gymnastics as Part of His Shot-Put Training

Joe Kovacs
Joe Kovacs USOC/NBC Olympics

Unexpected crossover! Shot-putter Joe Kovacs may not look like your average gymnast, but he’s been cross-training as one to help with his prep for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro!

“Gymnastics teaches me body awareness, gives me elasticity and it’s really fun,” Kovacs tells Us Weekly. “We jump into the pits and do flips and go down to the trampoline, but the best thing for me is going on the high bar, so I’ll go on the high bar — 300 pounds whipping around the high bar!”

“The bar bends a ton, but they tell me it’s not going to break!” the 26-year-old says with a laugh. “It hasn’t broken yet!"

High bar has become a favorite training mechanism for Kovacs, the top shot putter in the world. “It actually helps me, throwingwise, just because it stretches me out and kind of teaches me to be relaxed the whole time too,” he says.

Joe Kovacs
Joe Kovacs USOC/NBC Olympics

Over time, the athlete, who started out as a football player, has been able to learn a few gymnastics tricks. “Toward the end of last season I could do back handsprings!” he shares.

Learning the sport has given him another reason to want to cheer on the U.S. Gymnastics teams in Rio de Janeiro this summer. “Obviously, I knew how difficult it was to begin with, but once you actually try something it gives you a little more perspective of all that’s going on,” he explains. “It’s a fun sport to watch.”

Watch the video below to check out Kovacs’ high-bar skills in action!

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Olympics begin on August 5 and will be streamed live on NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports Live Extra.

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