'My Heart Was Just Pounding': Paul Juda Cries Happy Tears After Securing Spot on Team USA for 2024 Paris Olympics

Paul Juda shed tears after earning his way into the 2024 Paris Olympics

Published Time: 01.07.2024 - 01:31:09 Modified Time: 01.07.2024 - 01:31:09

Paul Juda shed tears after earning his way into the 2024 Paris Olympics.

On Saturday, June 29, the 22-year-old athlete secured his spot on Team USA after placing fourth with 168.850 points at the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, according to NBC Sports.

Opening up to reporters immediately after the highest scores were announced, Juda became emotional, tearing up as the crowd in Minneapolis cheered for him as he tried to hold back tears of joy.

"I only had one goal, and it was to hit all my routines and leave here healthy," Juda told NBC following his final event, holding flowers and standing next to his future Olympic teammate Asher Hong.

"So, I'm happy to do that and more," he finished, before shouting: "Go, Team USA!"

Juda, an alum of the University of Michigan and a 2023 World team bronze medalist, will join his four teammates as he travels to Paris to compete in July.

"My phone’s blowing up and I’m thinking about how I’m going to hug my mom and dad," he told NBC right after it was announced he had secured his spot at his first Olympics. "Every time I think about the word Olympian ... it's just a lot. Yeah, I can't even put it into words."

Juda's four teammates — Hong, Frederick Richard, Brody Malone and Stephen Nedoroscik — will now strategize on how best to approach the competition in Paris.

“Now it's just putting our heads together and figuring out where we best fit in as far as our performance and what events -

we're going to be doing,” Malone previously told PEOPLE.

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Speaking to PEOPLE on Saturday, Juda, also an NCAA floor exercise champion, said that he began to tear up the moment he heard the first syllable of his name announced over the loudspeaker system.

“I wish I could say I was calm, cool and collected," Juda said. "I might've been that on the outside, but my heart was just pounding."

"I was the first name called, and the second I heard 'Pa—,' I started crying right away," Juda told reporters.

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The first-time Olympian also told reporters that he had hoped for this moment for years — and even wrote down his goal on a vision board to help keep him on track.

"I'm really glad that I wrote on my whiteboard — ‘Become an Olympian,' " Juda said through his tears. "I had fell short on a couple other goals that I wrote on that whiteboard and I was starting to think if I should erase the one that said Olympian because I guess maybe it won't come true."

"But I’m going home and I’m putting a massive check mark on there, and I'm glad that it went there, that I kept it there," he said.

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