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Gymnastics Olympic Trials 2012: Why Jonathan Horton Will Be X-Factor in London

SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 30:  Jonathan Horton competes on the rings during day 3 of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials at HP Pavilion on June 30, 2012 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Emily BayciContributor IIIJuly 1, 2012

Now that Team USA for men’s gymnastics has finally been announced, it is obvious that Jonathan Horton will be the team leader in the stacked field.

Danell Leyva, John Orozco, Sam Mikulak, Jonathan Horton and Jake Dalton are the five team members. 

The three alternates are Chris Brooks, Alexander Naddour and Steven Legendre.

The field has been consistently posting top scores, and most of the guys have been pretty healthy. They are definitely going to be a strong force in London.

Jonathan Horton has something none of his teammates have—Olympic experience. He was on the 2008 bronze medal team in Bejing and he won an individual silver on the high bar.

Horton did not have the best performance ever at Olympic Trials, but finished the four days of competition—Visa’s and Trials—in third. He had an uncharacteristic fall on high bar during the first night at trials and did not look perfect.

He will stick out on rings and parallel bars in London, but his main asset will be bringing team unity and togetherness.

"Super excited to be doing this again," Horton wrote in a text to The Associated Press. "I was worried, but I think this team is going to be great."

Elfi Schlegl, NBC announcer, reported on television Saturday that it was Horton’s idea for all the men to wear red uniforms during the second day of trials.

Horton, a 17-time member of the U.S. Senior National Team, has boundless national and international experience. At 26, he is the oldest member of the Olympic team by five years.

SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 30:  Jonathan Horton competes on the parallel bars during day 3 of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials at HP Pavilion on June 30, 2012 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Leyva and Dalton are 21 while Orozco and Mikulak are 19. 


Someone needs to be there to offer the younger guys advice about competing on the world’s most competitive stage.

He seems to always have a calm and steadying presence, something that can calm all the other guys nerves. 

Horton is also on top of an Oklahoma Team USA domination. Five of the eight team members and alternates—Horton, Dalton, Brooks, Naddour and Legendre—are former or current Sooner gymnasts. 

The difference between getting on the podium or not is going to be Horton, not because of his talent, but because he will be the glue that keeps Team USA together when times get tough.

You can contact Emily Bayci by e-mailing emilybayci@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @EmilyBayci.

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