Just days ago the U.S. men’s 2012 Olympic gymnastics team was sitting pretty. Now, after the crushing blow of a fifth place finish in the team finals, the athletes must step back, chalk up and begin anew. This means teammates Danell Leyva and John Orozco are positioned to lead the way via the individual all-around competition.
Social media was buzzing with positive encouragement throughout the team meet, but by the fifth rotation it was obvious the men would not medal.
Monday Orozco was near tears as he witnessed his team gold dream fade to black. Leyva responded more stoically, but no one could imagine the defeat did not mortify him as well.
But the competition is far from over. Leyva and Orozco qualified for the all-around in first and fourth place respectively and prepare to battle it out against 22 competitors on Wednesday.
Included in that list is Japan’s Kohei Uchimura, the hero or the villain of the team competition, depending on who you ask. After a poor showing during prelims, Uchimura and his compatriots fought back on day three to snatch the silver medal. Great Britain took bronze, their first medal in 100 years.
Also in the mix is Russia’s David Belyavskiy, who qualified second and finished nipping at Leyva’s heels by .433. The 20-year-old will challenge Leyva on vault and parallel bars.
Germany’s Fabian Hambuchen placed third over Orozco by .168 and is definitely a contender, scoring consistently high in four of six events with a fourth place ranking on high bar.
The pressure of great expectations for a team medal is over. The next chapter begins. While it is easy to armchair coach and tell the men, “brush it off, buck up,” it is the men themselves who will talk it out and in the end, remember why they are here—to represent Team USA and do so with pride.