So, you love watching women’s gymnastics. The balance beam is so thrilling, the uneven bars look like flying, and the floor routines get the crowds on their feet and clapping along to the music.
Men’s gymnastics don't get the same love and attention, even though they, too, can be seriously exciting. Men do events that women don’t ― like pommel horse, parallel bars, high bar and rings ― but, like women, they also do floor and vault. The major difference is that the men’s floor exercises don’t involve any music or dancing.
One Ohio State gymnast is giving us a glimpse of what it would look like if they did. And it’s awesome.
Paris McGee Jr. is a junior on the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team. He competes on floor and vault for the Buckeyes, but his specialty ― and his favorite event ― is floor. “It’s always been my favorite, because I love to perform,” he told The Huffington Post.
That much is clear: For the last few days, McGee has been entertaining the gymnasts at Ohio State’s summer intensive camp ― and the gymternet ― by performing the floor routines of the newly-minted women’s Olympic team members.
Here he is attempting Laurie Hernandez’s spectacular routine:
Here’s the real thing, for the sake of comparison:
McGee says he’s a big fan of Hernandez. “She’s so sassy and she’s got so much personality on floor. You get to have fun when you’re doing her routine. She’s not afraid to really dance and show people her personality, and she really gets the crowd into it.” And, she’s a fan of his: Last night, she tweeted that his version of her routine is “AMAZING.”
This isn’t the first time McGee has attempted to, as he puts it, “show these girls what a real floor routine looks like.” In October, he attempted Gabby Douglas’ routine.
It started in fun, he says. McGee and his teammates were watching women’s performances at the World Gymnastic Championships, when, on a whim, he started imitating Douglas’ routine. “The guys absolutely loved it,” he said, so when Halloween came around, McGee dressed up as Douglas and did her whole routine. The Ohio State women’s coaches got wind of it and asked him to come perform for the gymnasts at the girls’ camp, where he coaches on floor.
Men aren’t required to do split leaps and pirouettes in their routines and, well, you can tell: McGee struggles with them here, and it’s no wonder he pulled his groin imitating Hernandez’s routine. “Switch leaps are no joke,” he says, referring to the complicated jumps that are commonplace on beam and in women’s floor routines, and nowhere to be found in the men’s competition. But his dancing, it must be said, is better than most of the dancing you’ll see in women’s gymnastics.
It’s very unlikely that we’ll ever see music ― to say nothing of dancing and rhinestones ― added to men’s gymnastics. But McGee is making a pretty good case for it.