USA Gymnast Leyva earns Bronze in Men’s Individual All-Around, Orozco Eighth

After a dismal performance in the men’s team gymnastics finals, Team USA needed a pick-me-up from one of its two gymnasts competiting in the men’s individual all-around. Wednesday saw results more in line with the U.S. women’s standout performance.

Japan’s Kōhei Uchimura took home the gold medal comfortably with a 92.690 score, and Germany’s Marcel Nguyen took silver with a 91.031. American Danell Leyva, who was the top gymnast coming out of qualifying, fended off the competition for a bronze medal, scoring 90.698.

John Orozco finished eighth for the United States with a total score of 89.331, sitting 1.367 points behind Leyva.

Leyva clinched the bronze by scoring highest in the field on horizontal bar and tying Nguyen for best on parallel bars. He was also fourth on the floor exercise.

After being pummeled on the pommel horse in the team competition Monday, the apparatus again proved to be Team USA’s Kryptonite in the all-around. Orozco struggled again with his technique on the pommel, painfully inching into his final handstand before dismounting. Were it not for his low score of  12.566 – only good enough for 23rd-best on the pommel – he may have medaled. He scored eighth or tied for eighth on vault and both bar events, third on the floor and tied for third on the rings, solid all around.

The pommel was also Leyva’s worst event, and his 13.500 was the 19th-best score in the field.

Uchimura, silver medalist in Beijing in 2008 and a three-time defending World Champion in the all-around, came in as the gold medal favorite but had qualified ninth despite a disastrous performance on the pommel horse – ranked 60th in the field. Uchimura returned with a vengeance, posting the second-best score on pommel with a 15.066. He gave up ground to Leyva and Nguen on floor and parallel bars, but his vault was best in the field, and his marks on horizontal bar and rings were second-best.

Nguyen scored in the top five on four events – tops on rings and tied for first on parallel bars – and ninth on vault.

Leyva’s medal was the 60th all-time Olympic men’s gymnastics medal won by the United States.

The American men are not done in competition at the London Games; still to come are the individual apparatus finals. Jake Dalton qualified fourth on floor exercise and will compete in the finals August 5. Leyva is a reserve in the pommel horse finals, also set for August 5, and the parallel bars finals August 7. Jonathan Horton is a reserve on the rings and would need help to compete in the finals August 6. Sam Mikulak is set to compete in the vault finals August 6. Leyva and Horton both qualified for the horizontal bar finals August 7.

 

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Men’s Gymnastics Falters, Places 5th in Team Finals

The bad fortune of other countries that vaulted the United States men’s gymnastics team to the top qualifying spot cruelly reversed course today, sending the American men tumbling from both the apparatuses and the standings.

China and Japan – traditional gymnastics powerhouses – recovered from atypical subpar scores in the qualifying rounds to earn the gold and silver medals, respectively, with host nation Great Britain earning a surprising bronze medal in third. This was only Great Britain’s third men’s gymnastics medal – and second bronze – in Olympic history.

Team USA finished a disappointing fifth behind Ukraine, which had qualified seventh.

The Americans were competitive – relatively – in the floor and bar exercises, but they lost nearly a point in their floor score from qualifying, and inherent weakness on the pommel horse and a disastrous performance on the vault doomed hopes for any medal, let alone gold.

Team USA dropped nearly 1.5 points on the vault, going from fourth in the qualifying on the event to sixth in the finals. Sam Mikulak and Jake Dalton did well but stepped off on their landings, and John Orozco missed his vault completely.

The Americans posted a low score again on the pommel, the apparatus that proved the deciding factor in the medal standings. The Americans’ lowest score for any event in qualifying was on the pommel horse, but it was good enough for third place then. The team’s performance in the finals was more than 3 points worse, dropping them to seventh in the field on that apparatus. Danell Leyva and Orozco, both considered proficient on the apparatus, faltered, posting scores in the 13’s and 12’s, respectively. Had Team USA simply maintained its performance on the pommel from the qualifying round, it would have comfortably won Team Silver.

In fact, Team USA regressed on every apparatus except parallel bar, where they gained nearly half a point. But in order to match rejuvenated Japanese and Chinese squads, they needed to replicate or nearly replicate their qualifying totals and were unable to do so. The qualifying score of 275.342 would have put USA quite comfortably in silver position.

Jonathan Horton, the sole gymnast returning from Beijing’s rotation, posted the sixth-best score on rings, but this was his only officially tallied event score on the day.

Orozco performed on five of the six apparatuses (floor exercise was the sole omission). He was eighth-best on high bar, 13th-best on rings and tied for 15th on parallel bars.

Please don’t mistake what I can only classify as cold analysis for malicious criticism. The U.S. men have some fantastic personalities and great back stories, and they provided the world with quite the show in the qualifying rounds. And to be sure, there is no shame in finishing fifth-best in the world at anything.

The Americans’ fall paved the way for a memorable moment for host nation Great Britain, which stuck in silver position after completing the final rotation, initiating a raucous explosion of applause and cheers from the home crowd, which included princes William and Harry. However, the final Japanese vault score was incorrectly tallied, and after a formal inquiry by Japan’s delegation, the score was reverted and Japan took silver, with Great Britain taking bronze.

Lleyva, who posted the top all-around qualifying score, and Orozco will move on to compete in the Men’s Individual All-Around finals. In terms of individual event finals, Dalton qualified for the floor exercise (Mikulak just missed), Lleyva is a reserve for pommel horse and parallel bars, Horton is a reserve for rings, Mikulak qualified for vault, and Horton and Lleyva qualified on horizontal bar.

Final standings:

RANK TEAM SCORE
1 CHNCHN 275.997
2 JPNJPN 271.952
3 GBRGBR 271.711
4 UKRUKR 271.526
5 USAUSA 269.952
6 RUSRUS 269.603
7 GERGER 268.019
8 FRAFRA 265.441

 

Points Breakdown by Event

TEAM USA TOTAL QUALIFYING SCORE:  275.342
TEAM USA TOTAL FINAL SCORE:  269.952
Differential:  -5.39

Floor Exercise

Qualifying:  46.165
Final:  45.266
Differential:   -0.899

Pommel Horse

Qualifying:  43.965
Final:  40.633
Differential:   -3.332

Rings

Qualifying:  45.332
Final:  45.257
Differential:   -0.075

Parallel Bar

Qualifying:  45.182
Final:  45.765
Differential:  +0.583

Vault

Qualifying:  48.000
Final:  46.632
Differential:  -1.368

Horizontal Bar

Qualifying:  46.698
Final:  46.399
Differential:   -0.299

2012 Summer Olympics – Day 1: New Names and Old Faces

Day One of the 2012 London Olympics has come and gone and we’ve already seen some incredible last-second finishes, suspense, surprise and incredible feats of accuracy and athleticism. Here’s a synopsis of what we saw today. Please bear with me as I’ll pass on talking about stuff like weightlifting, air rifle and table tennis, which you’re welcome to check out if you’re interested on NBC’s website, http://www.nbcolympics.com.

Actually…

Table Tennis

I caught this on TV earlier and I think it’s worth mentioning. Ariel Hsing, a 16-year-old daughter of Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants, made it to the second round of the table tennis tournament. This is a girl who calls Bill Gates and Warren Buffet “Uncle Bill” and “Uncle Warren” and plays ping-pong at Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meetings. That’s mind-boggling. Anyway, read more about the story here, all credit to NBC’s online writers.

Now for the good stuff:

Swimming

Men’s 400m Individual Medley Final

Probably the worst-kept secret in America is now finally out in the open (thank you, tape-delay NBC broadcasts), and the world knows Ryan Lochte has finally established himself among swimming’s elite, handily beating Michael Phelps and six other swimmers for the men’s 400m individual medley gold medal. Lochte set himself up to win with a stellar 100m backstroke – which is his best stroke – but won with a phenomenal breaststroke. By the time he was finishing the freestyle, he was in no danger of losing the gold. Lochte is the fifth-straight American male swimmer to win this event.

First, let’s not knock Lochte for swimming collegiately for the Florida Gators after moving South from Rochester, NY. He’s an SEC man, and that’s good enough. And did you know he’s part Cuban? But to his credit, this isn’t that huge of a surprise. Lochte, who is only about to turn 28, has been a name to watch since the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, where he helped the USA win gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay (WITH Phelps) and won silver in the 200m individual medley. He followed that up by winning bronze in the 200m and 400m individual medleys, individual gold in the 200m backstroke and repeating gold in the 4x200m team free relay in world record fashion.

Let’s also not knock Michael Phelps for finishing a human fourth place by a handful of $5 footlongs. But this was an event he didn’t want to swim this time around, anyway. Arguably his best stroke – butterfly – was the first leg, and he’s only been training on this event for a matter of months, as opposed to Lochte’s obsessive four years of training. Oh, and by the way, as of today he only has 16 medals to his name. Was the all-time iconic performance in Beijing not enough to satiate our need for hero-worship?

Lochte will have more opportunities to win medals, competing in his best event, the 200m back, as well as the 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley. He’ll likely swim relay for the USA, too. Phelps still has the 100m and 200m fly, 200m individual medley 4x100m and 4×200 free relays and the 4x100m medley relays to go. He’ll have swum every event he won in Beijing except for the 200m free.

Which team are you on: Team Ryan or Team Michael?

Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final

Natalie Coughlin saw the sun set with a bronze tint on her Olympic career as the US women finished bronze in the 4x100m free. Coughlin earned the quickest time on the US team in the prelims but was passed over for the final relay team, though her earlier swim earned her whatever medal the final team won. Instead, she watched as the next wave of swimming stars – Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal and Allison Schmitt – kept stride with Australia until the final lap, during which they were also passed by the Dutch by less than half a second.

Coughlin joins Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson with 12 medals, the most all-time by an American female Olympian. There’s a slight chance she could compete in 2016 in Rio, but it seems unlikely.

Women’s 400m Individual Medley Final

The USA performed well in the medleys today, as Elizabeth Beisel, only 19 years old, finished a distant second for the silver medal behind a world record performance by China’s Ye Shiwen. American Caitlin Leverenz was also in the final. Beisel faltered early in the butterfly but regained the lead during the breaststroke, only to see Shiwen power past her in the freestyle. Beisel finished with a time of 4:31.27, fractions of a second under the American record. Beisel is the only American Olympian from Rhode Island competing in London.

Men’s 400m Freestyle Final

It was a great day for swimmers from Rochester. In what may be his final Olympics, Peter Vanderkaay snagged the bronze in the men’s 400m free. Vanderkaay had previously won an individual bronze in Beijing and was a part of those golden 4x200m relays in 2004 and 2008.

Preliminaries

American female swimmer Dana Vollmer – also from upstate New York – set an Olympic Record in the 100m fly with a time of 56.36, and Texan Claire Donahue also made it into final with a 57.42. Four-time Olympic medalist Brendan Hansen barely sneaked into the men’s 100m breaststroke final, finishing sixth in his heat but qualifying eighth overall.

Beach Volleyball

Women

Misty May and Kerri Walsh are back! The dynamic duo that once was and almost wasn’t has reunited for a third and final run at Olympic gold in the women’s beach volleyball event.

Now both married (May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings), the greatest force in their sport’s history will operate as the No. 3 seed in a pairing that seemed finished after Beijing. Walsh Jennings, under the assumption that May-Treanor was done competing, asked Nicole Branagh to prepare to play in London as her partner. It wasn’t until May-Treanor woke crying one morning that she realized she wanted to compete one last time, so she initiated the conversation with Walsh Jennings, who then had the unpleasant task of informing Branagh.

The world benefited from the decision, however, and today the duo debuted against No. 22 Australian pairing Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley. Three of the four athletes – Cook, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings – are all gold medalists. It was a vigorous match throughout, with the Americans taking the first set 21-18 after trading points several times with the Aussies. Team USA seemed beatable, even though coming into the match they had NEVER LOST A SINGLE SET in Olympic play. It remained that way, as another back-and-forth set culminated with an absolutely incredible series of volleys. May-Treanor pulled several digs from the brink of scoring including an acrobatic left-handed dive, then fired into a push by Hinchley to clinch the match, 21-19. They are now 15-0 in Olympic play, winning all 30 sets.

The other US pairing of April Ross and Jen Kessy play Sunday.

Men

Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb had less of a struggle in their opening match Saturday, defeating South Africa in straight sets, 21-11, 21-10. Gibb, a cancer survivor, led most of the statistical categories. The pair is the No. 2 ranked American team behind Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, who open play tomorrow.

Soccer

The US Women shut out Colombia today, 3-0, with goals by Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe. You know the latter two as the Pia Sundhage played around with the lineup a bit to start the game today, replacing Shannon Boxx who was injured with Lloyd and starting Heather O’Reilly and Heather Mitts. Wambach’s goal was her sixth Olympic goal, which is the most by an American woman in history.

The game was chippy throughout, and that continued after the match off the pitch when goalkeeper Hope Solo sent a couple of snide comments Brandi Chastain’s way via Twitter. Chastain – an all-time great defender in her own right – is a commentator for the women’s games and offered some criticism of the US defense, which Solo didn’t take a  liking to. But let’s let bygones be bygones – the US is in the quarterfinals.

Women’s Basketball

What a dominant showing by Team USA against Croatia, at least in the closing quarter of the game. Croatia, not considered a relative powerhouse by any means, stuck with the Americans, who struggled to find shots and hit the glass on offense early. The lead was within single digits early in the fourth quarter before USA went on a run and won, 81-56.

A lot has been made of whether the current men’s roster would take out the Dream Team from 1992 (for that matter, would they beat the 1996 team?), but goodness, the women’s roster is incredibly stacked as well. Think of the consensus best players in the country in women’s basketball for the last several years. Got em? Chances are they’re in this list of women on Team USA: Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings. Sylvia Fowles, Swin Cash and Lindsey Whalen were no slouches in their day, either.

The roster breakdown comprises six former UConn Lady Huskies, two Tennessee Lady Vols and two LSU Lady Tigers. Elite. Talent. Props also to Minnesota and Louisville for being represented.

Oh, and coaching maestro Geno Auriemma is in charge.

Men’s Gymnastics

If you like elite talent in your men’s gymnastics, you might be disappointed this time around. Many of the top competitors underperformed during the qualifying events, including huge slip ups by powerhouses China and Japan. Team USA is sitting in great position for a medal, perhaps gold, when the team finals take place on Monday.

There are some great stories among the men’s team, perhaps none more interesting than that of John Orozco, a kid from the inner-city Bronx who has endured socioeconomic struggles and battled serious injuries on his way to London.

Rowing

I actually really enjoy the Olympic rowing events, so I paid attention today as Team USA advanced to the finals of the men’s eight, an event dominated recently by Germany, and the US also put a boat into the women’s pair finals.

Archery

I know I posted previously, but a shout-out to the USA men’s archery team for clinching the first medal of the Games for us – a silver – and reminding me that even watching people shoot a bow and arrow at a target not only takes world-class precision and skill, but is also pretty entertaining when the chips are down.

TOMORROW’S SCHEDULE

I’ll post a schedule of events tomorrow morning!  Enjoy your evening!