2012 Summer Olympics: Power Ranking the Top 10 Men's Gymnasts in the World
A crowded field of talented gymnasts from across the globe will meet in London for the 2012 Olympics. Legends, veterans and newcomers are prepared to compete for their national teams and chase individual Summer Games glory.
America's rising tandem of Danell Leyva and John Orozco appear ready for the Olympic stage. China aims to defend their team gold medal with an experienced group of athletes.
Great Britain certainly feels good about themselves after claiming gold at the 2012 European Championships. And, of course, Japanese superstar Kohei Uchimura could cap off an incredible four-year run with his first all-around Olympic gold medal.
With so many countries and competitors vying for a coveted spot on the winner's podium, it can be hard to keep up with the action. Here's a look at the top 10 competitors who should steal the spotlight in Olympic gymnastics competition.
They come from different corners of the planet and have journeyed varied career paths, but their shared goal of gold is undeniable.
10. Denis Ablyazin, Russia
The 20-year-old is a threat to compete for multiple medals. It's this diversity that sets him apart.
Ablyazin placed fifth on vault at the 2011 World Championships and is also Russia's best chance for a finalist on floor and rings.
"I understand that I can challenge for medals on three events," Ablyazin told Amanda Turner of International Gymnast Magazine in April.
He helped lead Russia to a silver medal finish at the 2012 European Championship in Montpellier, France. Ablyazin earned individual bronze medals on both rings and vault, while settling for sixth on floor.
9. Daniel Purvis, Great Britain
The three-time British all-around champion is the most balanced member of a Great Britain squad that surprised some at the 2012 European Championship by securing a team gold medal
The 2011 European all-around bronze medalist is not the world's best in any one event, but that hasn't stopped him from making an impact. Purvis placed fourth in the all-around at the 2011 World Championships with a total score of 89.932, behind fellow members of this list.
If he can improve on the horizontal bar, where he earned the lowest score out of the top five all-around finishers at World Championships, he could sneak up on the favorites. Of course, he has the home crowd on his side.
8. John Orozco, USA
The youngest member of Team USA's men's gymnastics team could be on the verge of a breakout Olympics. Orozco, 19, finished fifth in the all-around at the 2011 World Championships and has battled with Denell Leyva (don't worry, he's coming up) for American supremacy,
The Bronx native has earned the nickname "Silent Ninja" for the manner in which he tends to sneak his way to the winner's podium with consistent execution. A passionate student of the sport, Orozco contends for medals on vault and rings, and is certainly in the mix in the all-around.
He edged out Leyva for the all-around title at the 2012 Visa Championships in June. Orozco entered U.S. Trials as a favorite to make the team and solidified his spot with a strong performance.
"Since I was 13 I would lie in bed, looking up at the ceiling, and imagine the feeling when the Olympic team was announced," Orozco told Mark Emmons of The Salt Lake Tribune. "Now it’s go time. No more dreaming."
7. Yang Hak-Seon, South Korea
South Korea has high hopes for Yang. The 19-year-old is the reigning world champion on vault.
The Associated Press called his winning leap "the hardest vault ever attempted". (Check out the video below, and you be the judge).
That's incredibly high praise for Yang, who presents South Korea's most realistic opportunity for the nation's first Olympic title in gymnastics.
"My biggest rival is really myself. I know if I can keep training the way I have, I can win the gold medal," Yang told AFP.
6. Krisztián Berki, Hungary
Berski is the globe's premier pummel horse specialist and in the midst of a dominant run.
After settling for silver medals at the 2007 and 2009 World Championships, Berski is currently a two-time defending world champion in the event. His success has brought him immense fame as a national athletic icon.
Berski was named Hungary's 2011 Sportsman of the Year. He has won six gold medals on pummel horse at the European Championships since 2005 and is clearly the favorite in the event in London.
5. Chen Yibing, China
The reigning Olympic gold medalist on rings hopes to prove that he's still a formidable force at the age of 27. Yibing is the captain of the Chinese men's gymnastics team, which took the overall team title when it hosted the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
He topped all contenders in the event at the 2011 World Championships, the fourth time he's won a world title. Yibing also won a World Championship on rings in 2006, 2007 and 2010.
An event specialist in every sense of the phrase, he's the favorite on rings once again at these Olympics.
4. Danell Leyva, USA
The 20-year-old resident of Miami has pedigree on his side. His stepfather, Yin Alvarez, and mother, Maria Gonzalez, each competed as members of Cuba's national gymnastics squad.
Leyva has also built a solid amount of momentum in recent years. In 2011, he became the United States' all-around gold medalist and earned a world championship on parallel bars.
Although he was edged by rival American gymnast Orozco in the 2012 national championship, Levya is considered a global talent in high bars.
Charismatic, confident and occasionally brash, Leyva is the complete package you look for in an Olympic star. The Cuban defector can become an American icon if he peaks at the right time in London.
3. Philipp Boy, Germany
Boy is Europe's premier threat to earn an all-around title at the 2012 Olympics. The 2011 European all-around champion earned a silver medal in the all-around at the 2011 World Championships and seems to be elevating his skill set.
The 24-year-old is among the world's best on the horizontal bar and vault is a developing strength, but he will face stiff competition in London. Expect him to battle for an all-around medal with America's impressive duo, Brit Daniel Purvis and the dominant Kochei Uchimura.
2. Zou Kai, China
The 24-year-old has ranked among the sport's elite for a number of years now. After winning three gold medals (team, floor and high bar) at 2008 Beijing Games, Kai is a leading contender to claim more Olympic gold.
He is the two-time defending world champion on high bar and two-time silver medalist in floor competition. Kai helped lead China to a 2011 World Championship in Tokyo last October.
If China claims its second consecutive team gold medal in London, he will be the face of his homeland's success.
1. Kōhei Uchimura, Japan
Recognized as one of the most dominant gymnasts of all time, Uchimura looks to cement his legacy in London. The 23-year-old collected two gold medals at the 2011 World Championships (all-around and floor) to push his total world medal count to nine since 2009.
The two-time Olympic silver medalist finished second in the all-around at the 2008 Games in Beijing, behind only Yang Wei of China. Since then, Uchimura has been on the warpath.
He is the first man in history to win three consecutive world all-around titles and that feat seems to have turned even his fiercest rivals into admirers.
"Three times in a row, this is history... I can't say anything more about it," Germany's Phillip Boy told The Wall Street Journal.
Expect Boy and a talented field of gymnasts to mount a major challenge in the all-around, but at this point it simply seems like Uchimura is on a level of his own.