(WCIA) — We all need motivation, and it comes in many different forms. For former Illini Alex Diab, it’s the chance to represent his country.
“It’s something that definitely motivates me every day in the gym and it’s my big driving force right now,” says Diab.
Diab was a six-time All-American and two-time national champion at Illinois. He’s been traveling the globe since graduation, most recently competing at the University Games in Naples, Italy where he finished 6th on the floor and 7th on the rings.
“I knew I could be with some of the top guys in the world and I proved that,” says Diab. “Next time hopefully I get the opportunity to compete again on the world stage I can come home with a medal.”
The Glen Ellyn native is still enrolled in classes at the U of I, and plans to help the men’s gymnastics team next year as a volunteer coach. It was an easy decision to stay in Champaign and train with Illini head coach Justin Spring, seeing as Spring has been where Diab wants to go: the Olympics.
“I think we’re just kind of laser visioned right now on 2020,” says Spring. “He’s got an outside shot. But to be completely honest, everyone’s got an outside shot, it’s the Olympic team. There’s only four spots on the team. We do have a weakness on rings, so it’s something he’s got to kind of step up and be far and away the best ring man in the country.”
I’m not quite there yet but I’m just gonna keep grinding for this next year and do everything I possibly can to hopefully get a spot on that team,” says Diab. “I feel like I’m 90% of the way there. I’ve got to get a little bit better on rings, a little bit better on my other events and just really prove that I’m one of the top guys in the world, especially on rings so that I could compete on the Olympic stage.”
Diab will head to the USA Championships in Kansas City in August, where he will be joined by former Illini teammates Michael Fletcher and Michael Paradise. It’s the next step in the journey, that Diab hopes ends in Tokyo.