CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Alex Diab has a true talent for the rings and it runs in his blood. More than 30 years ago, his father Mark, won a still rings national title for Iowa State.
“He’s been a huge role model of mine and a mentor to me,” Diab said about his father. “He’s kinda seen me during me journey in gymnastics. from when I was young till now, and as I got older that was one of my big goals was to be the NCAA rings champion.”
In fact, the senior has already done it once before and he’ll look to defend his title this weekend as Illinois and State Farm Center host the NCAA Championships. Diab is also the only Illini in program history to win four Big Ten Championships on the rings. It’s exactly the type career that was expected of the Illinois native.
“Alex has not disappointed at all,” Illinois head coach Justin Spring said. “He’s just been the backbone of our program, he is one of the hardest working, humble, succesful athletes I’ve ever worked with.”
“You watch Alex raise his hand, you know 90 percent of the time he’s gonna win the meet,” Illinois freshman Michael Fletcher said. “You doubt he’s gonna put up a flawless routine that’s gonna be huge.”
Ending his career in Champaign is the perfect stage for the Glen Ellyn native but it takes more than just a home floor advantage to be in contention for a second national title.
“It’s ugly hard work,” Spring added. “He’s always the last guy to leave, smart thoughtful work, towed the line for what it means to work hard “
“It’s all about the confident mindset going in and trusting all the work I’ve done in the gym is gonna help me succeed in the competitions,” Diab said.
The ultimate goal for Diab is a team national championship but earning another individual would make him the most decorated gymnast in his family and one of the all time best for the Illini.