US Olympic Gymnastics Team 2012: Danell Leyva Fights for Individual Gold

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30:  Danell Leyva of the United States reacts in the Artistic Gymnastics Men's Team final on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena on July 30, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After a disappointing finish in the men's team competition, United States gymnast Danell Levya can still win a gold medal in the all-around.

The American team went into the team event Monday thinking they could contend for a gold, but expecting to at least finish with a medal. Unfortunately, neither of those came true as the team finished in fifth place out of eight teams.

A better result was not out of the question. In last year's world championships, a very similar group was able to take the bronze medal behind China and Japan. Leyva won the gold medal on the parallel bars, while John Orozco finished fifth in the individual all-around.

After the qualifying round to open the Olympics, the squad should have been even more confident as they easily finished with the most points as a team. However, the finals were a very different story as they struggled throughout, especially on the pommel horse.

Now, the American gymnasts have to look to make up for it in the individual competitions, beginning with the all-around.

Orozco and Leyva will compete in the prestigious event and try to replicate Paul Hamm's 2004 achievement as a rare American male to win the Olympic gold.

In the qualifying, Leyva finished with the most individual points of any competitor, and he looks to replicate that feat in the finals. Unfortunately, the path will not be easy.

Standing in the way is Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura, who won silver in Beijing and took gold every world championship since. The good news is he is capable of making mistakes, as his performance on the pommel horse might have cost Japan a gold medal in the team competition.

In addition, Phillipp Boy of Germany and Great Britain's Daniel Purvis should also challenge for the top spot.

Leyva, however, has been steadily improving and should provide a challenge for these regulars on the podium. He is an expert on the parallel bars, but he has also been performing well on the high bar and vault as well.

If he can step up his performance on the rings and pommel horse, he has a legitimate chance to shock the world in London and take home individual gold.