HERRIMAN, Utah — Four members of Team USA Trampoline and Tumbling returned to Utah from the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo last week.
"The nerves were a little less but the expectations were higher," said Kaden Brown from Herriman, who earned a bronze medal helping end Team USA's 23-year men's tumbling medal drought. "Going into individual finals, honestly my goal was just to make finals and then to come home with a medal was insane."
Brown, who competed as a 16-year-old in the world championships held in Bulgaria in 2017, earned the bronze with his 76.3000 total in the final.
"For this competition I just qualified the United States for a world games spot," said Brown, "So in 2021 we will be able to send one athlete to the world games so hopefully is that where I'll be going."
Ruben Padilla, who recently moved from California to Utah, won a silver medal in the double-mini.
"It was an amazing experience you know going out there and competing you know doing the sport I love, competing and representing my country in front of hundreds or thousands of people from all over the world," said Padilla. He moved in with Kaden Brown and his family to continue training at Wasatch Trampoline and Tumbling.
Appearing in his first world championships, Simon Smith (Springville) had a warm family reception at Salt Lake International Airport during his return back to Utah.
"Yeah that was pretty sweet I didn't know they were going to be here so that was pretty awesome to be able to have all that support in my family," said Smith, who was apart of the double-mini silver medal team in Tokyo. "Still kind of unreal to me kind of just when I was little I mean I'm not an Olympian but just seeing those big dogs representing our country it's so crazy to me that I'm there that's it."
Smith still has the remainder of his senior year of high school before deciding where to go next in his career. Kaden Brown is now a freshman at the University of Utah, who doesn't have a men's gymnastics team.
"It's insane power tumbling's getting huge in Utah and it's really cool seeing it start to grow even more," said Brown who enjoyed his mentorship role at his second world championships. "So when I started this sport I was looking up to elite athletes and they inspired me and it's crazy to go to these instate competitions and have them look up to me and I'm kind of in their spot now and it's really, really cool."