[Photo provided by Illinois Athletics]
Diab won with a 14.733 and 14.50 in 2018 in Chicago. Taking second both times was Oklahoma senior Yul Muldauer, who captured the 2017 championship (14.95) with Diab seventh (14.65). Diab remembers the rough dismount he felt cost a championship.
“[My titles] felt different. The first one I was pretty excited that I finally accomplished that goal,” Diab said. “That second one was really special because I got to do it at home in front of the home crowd. That was a huge motivation for me. Sad to be done, but something special to do.”
The 2019 Collegiate Gymnastics Association’s Specialist of the Year, Diab also tied for sixth on floor at the NCAA finals (14.433) and competed on vault and horizontal bar.
On rings, Diab became only the third gymnast to win four Big Ten Championships titles on any event or all-around. He achieved a single-season school-record 11 rings titles this season and a program-best 31 among 44 career event titles. Sophomore Max Diab was fifth on rings at Big Tens (14.275) and also competed on floor and vault at nationals.
Alex Diab still said his favorite memory was the 2018 Illini winning the Big Ten after finishing second three straight years. The 2018 Illini were third at the NCAA Championships and fifth this season.
On Senior Night March 2, the Illini upset eventual national champion Stanford. Diab’s 15.200 on rings is the school record under the current scoring system.
“That was probably the best routine I’ve ever done,” Diab said. “That was probably my favorite competition. We had a big win on Senior Night against the [then] No. 2 team in the country.”
With the Olympics next summer in Tokyo, Diab will continue training as an Illinois volunteer assistant coach completing his kinesiology degree and pre-requisites for dental school.
“I want to keep gymnastics a big part of my life,” Diab said. “I’m excited to see how Max does. I think he can step up and be a really big player.”