Former Hawkeye gymnast Dan Bachman to serve as Olympic judge in 2020 Olympics

Bachman will be the only person from the United States judging men’s gymnastics at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.


Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan

Signs for Iowa men’s gymnastics hang outside the west entrance of Carver-Hawkeye Arena during the Iowa v. Nebraska men’s gymnastics meet in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Iowa defeated Nebraska with a score of 406.700 – 406.650. This was the Hawkeye’s last home meet of their final season.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Former Hawkeye gymnast Dan Bachman never achieved his goal of making an Olympic team, but he will now serve as a judge at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Bachman missed out for a spot on the United States men’s gymnastics team in 1988. Now, he will be the sole person from the U.S. judging men’s gymnastics. The first event for men’s gymnastics starts Saturday.

“Who would have known 32 years later that I wouldn’t be going as an athlete, I was going as a judge,” Bachman said before departing for Tokyo last week. “So, pretty fun. So, don’t give up on your dreams, you never know how they may turn out.”

Bachman took a men’s gymnastics judging test in November 2016 after a week-long course in Slovakia. The Urbandale, Iowa, native finished third out of 122 people.

Butch Zunich, the previous judge from the U.S. who had done the past four Olympics, finished 10th in the course. The selection was only based on test results for the 2020 Olympics, so Bachman was selected as the judge from the U.S.

RELATED: Former Iowa men’s gymnasts turned judges reflect on program cuts

“I beat him by a fraction of a point to get ahead of him,” Bachman said. “If I didn’t, he would be going, and I would be sitting at home. So, just like the athletes have to compete, so do we. We have to earn our spot.”

Bachman has judged men’s gymnastics before on the world stage, sitting at the judging table at six World Championships, as well as the Beijing, London, and Rio de Janeiro test events.

In Tokyo, Bachman will be on the difficulty panel for parallel bars, working alongside a judge from Algeria. They will be determining the start value for every routine in that event.

“The world needs the Olympics,” Bachman said. “We need it. I mean after all the COVID requirements and all the politics and all the world issues we’ve all been through, we need something to cheer for, and I think it’s going to bring the world together again for an event that is going to be fun. Even though there’s no crowd, it’s going to be exciting.”

Bachman will return to Iowa City in September to be inducted into the Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 3 as part of its 2021 class, which has 10 members.

Bachman was a three-time All-American and seven-time Big Ten champion during his career at Iowa from 1982-86. Bachman won gold in the all-around, floor exercise, and parallel bars as he helped lead the Hawkeyes to a team title at the 1986 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships.

The Iowa men’s gymnastics program was discontinued at the NCAA level at the end of the 2020-21 academic year, because of a budget deficit caused by COVID-19. Men’s swimming and diving and men’s tennis was also cut. Bachman is the only person selected to this year’s Hall of Fame class from a cut sport.

“Very surprised,” Bachman said about being selected to the Hall of Fame. “Very, very happy on one hand, and I have to admit I’m a little bit frustrated on the other hand just because of the timing of my sport being canceled. So, yes, it’s a great honor. I’m very happy.”