"I think we can compete for gold. As long as I can remember, this was the hardest selection to make because we have so many good gymnasts."
Those are the words of United States men's gymnastics coach Kevin Mazeika (via the Los Angeles Times)
The last time we saw the men's gymnastics team, the group finished in third place at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo, one one-hundredth of a point behind silver-medalist Japan and just over two points behind gold-medalist China in the team standings.
Horton has the most international experience of anybody on the five-man squad, as he is the oldest member of the team at 26 years old. He got his first taste of international gymnastics at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, where he won a bronze team medal.
More recently, he excelled in the all-around competition in the 2011 AT&T American Cup, where he won the gold medal.
Dalton, who joins Horton as an automatic bid, won gold medals in the vault in the 2009 and 2011 U.S. National Championships. He took home gold in the floor exercise at the latter competition in the same year and then again in 2012 at the Pacific Rim Championships, where he also won the team gold medal.
The Nevada native was part of the U.S. team that won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships. As a well-seasoned leader, he should have no problem adding to his team's chances at winning the gold.
Mikulak, a member of the Michigan Wolverines' gymnastics team, won the all-around competition on the first day of Olympic trials. However, he was limited to just one event in the final round due to an ankle injury, but was selected to the team anyway.
Leyva won the gold medal on the parallel bars at the 2011 World Championships. The 20-year-old Cuba native has racked up a whopping 17 medals throughout all competitions since 2009. He is the 2012 national champion on parallel bars and horizontal bar.
Orozco has had a decorated career leading up to these Olympics. The youngest member of the team won 14 gold medals at U.S. National Championship Junior Division competitions from 2007 to 2009. He also won all-around gold at the 2012 U.S. National Championships in St. Louis.
Now that you've met the competitors, it shouldn't be hard to tell that this is one of the most impressive U.S. men's gymnastics teams assembled in recent memory.
There's no doubt that this five-man group will medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Only time will tell whether they can bring a gold medal home from across the pond, but they are certainly one of the three best teams competing this summer.
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