Gopher alum Justin Karstadt makes the most out of delayed Olympics

Karstadt has been working to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics since he graduated in 2019.

Justin Karstadt competes on the parallel bars against Penn State at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 23, 2016.

Maddy Fox, Daily File Photo

Justin Karstadt competes on the parallel bars against Penn State at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 23, 2016.

AJ Condon

Minnesota men’s gymnastics alum Justin Karstadt has been away from the Gophers for over a year now, but he’s still pursuing his goal of being an Olympian. 

The 2019 graduate moved back home to Toronto to train at his longtime gymnastics club. Over the summer, Karstadt competed in the Pan-American Games for the Canadian team, helping the team to a bronze medal while finishing in the top eight on both the pommel horse and parallel bars. 

Karstadt is continuing his push to be part of the Canadian national team moving forward. He has been training every day in hopes of making it to Tokyo and has stayed connected with national team personnel.

“The national team’s coach actually lives about 20 minutes from my new gym,” he said. “I’ve been very connected with the national team and committed to trying to make Tokyo.”

News of the Olympics’ postponement didn’t come as a shock to Karstadt.

“I wasn’t surprised. The whole coronavirus was growing, and I actually felt like the Olympic committee were the ones behind with taking action and being proactive. I expected that it would be canceled,” Karstadt said. “For me, I am actually okay with it — it gives me more time to increase my difficulty and put the new skills I’ve been working on into my routine.”

It isn’t just about using the extra time to increase aspects of routines and difficulty. Karstadt knows that gymnastics is a tough sport where breaks are few and far between.

“I’ve been dealing with a couple injury problems too, so I think it will help me. Every time you take time off gymnastics, it’s quite difficult,” Karstadt said. “I see it as a great thing where I’m able to rest my whole body. You really got to cherish your opportunities of rest, and I think it came as a good time, at least for me.”

As a Gopher, Karstadt was a four-time All-American with three of them on pommel horse. If all goes according to plan, he has a chance to compete against his former teammate junior Shane Wiskus, who hopes to represent the United States. 

“That would be quite something. We kind of joke about [it]. I’m just really proud of him. We had a really good time together on the team. We were kind of like a good dynamic duo with leading the team,” Karstadt said. “I hope he can get there. I’m pretty confident he can get there.”

Karstadt has a tougher road to the Olympics than Wiskus, but nonetheless is doing what he can to make it possible.

“It’s a bit harder for my path because, for Canada, we didn’t qualify a team. So we can’t send four guys like Team USA can,” Karstadt said. “I’m pretty much fighting for one spot, so I’ll take everything I can.”