US Olympic Men's Gymnastics Team 2012: Ranking USA's Shots at Individual Gold

Darin PikeContributor IJuly 31, 2012

US Olympic Men's Gymnastics Team 2012: Ranking USA's Shots at Individual Gold

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    The U.S. men's gymnastic team could do something that would have been unthinkable a few days ago: leave London without a single medal.

    Their mistake-filled effort in the men's team finals left them in fifth place and questioning if they have the mettle to turn things around on the individual side.

    The men's all-around will be held on Wednesday (Day 5), with the individual events following later in the week.

    A full schedule and U.S. participants can be found on the following slides.

5. Rings, Pommel Horse and Parallel Bars

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    Rings

    Monday, August 6, 9:00 a.m. ET

     

    Pommel Horse

    Sunday, August 5, 10:41 a.m. ET

     

    Parallel Bars

    Tuesday, August 7, 9:00 a.m. ET

     

    The men did not qualify anyone for these individual finals.

    Jonathan Horton is a reserve on the rings. Danell Leyva is an alternate for the parallel bars and pommel horse.

    Their odds of getting a medal in these events are just slightly less than the next apparatus. 

4. Vault

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    Monday, August 6, 10:41 a.m. ET

     

    It is a bit daunting going up against a competitor who has a vault named after him, but that is what is facing the field. 

    Yang Hak-Seon of South Korea is the favorite and qualified second. If he can nail his handspring front layout triple full, he will be tough to beat. There are a few competitors who can challenge him, but not on the U.S. team.

     

    Sam Mikulak

    Mikulak qualified fourth and could sneak out of London with an individual bronze medal. But he'll need to get over the case of nerves that engulfed him and his teammates on Monday.

    "The Olympics just magnifies everything so much more than I expected," Mikulak said via the Chicago Tribune. "It was a lot more pressure than I expected."

    He finished 10th on the vault in team finals.

3. Men's Floor

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    Sunday, August 5, 9:00 a.m. ET

     

    The favorites coming into this event were China’s Zou Kai, defending gold-medal winner, and Japan’s Kohei Uchimura, who is the defending world champion.

    They finished first and second in the qualification round.

    Alexander Shatilov of Israel and Diego Hypolito from Brazil were also expected to challenge for the podium, but Hypolito did not qualify.

     

    Jake Dalton

    Dalton can make a push for the bronze medal. He qualified fourth, and the powerful floor specialist has the ability to increase his degree of difficulty and make a run at the podium.

2. Men's All-Around

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    Wednesday, August 1, 11:30 a.m. ET

     

    Kohei Uchimura won the silver medal for Japan in 2008. Yang Wei of China took gold and retired.

    Uchimura has been unbeatable since. He's won the last three all-around world titles and came to London as the clear favorite.

    He struggled on the pommel horse, coming in 60th out of 68 contestants. This hurt his standing headed into the individual events, qualifying ninth.

     

    John Orozco

    Orozco finished fourth in qualification for the all-around competition. He responded in the team competition with one of the worst performances of his career. 

    He started slow, then ended up sitting down on his vault. Things didn't get much better thereafter.

    Orozco had no confidence during the performance and looked scared throughout the meet. If he was ready to respond, I would have expected him to pick himself up—and his team—in the team event.

    It is possible that Orozco will rally for a top-10 finish, but a medal seems unlikely.

     

    Danell Leyva

    With Uchimura struggling, Leyva took advantage of the opening at the top of the leader board. He finished 0.433 points ahead of Russia's David Belyavskiy.

    Leyva struggled in the vault in the team competition, but was otherwise solid. He has a great opportunity to grab a silver or bronze medal.

1. Horizontal Bar

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    Tuesday, August 7, 10:37 a.m. ET

     

    It isn't inconceivable that the U.S. will start the final apparatus of the competition without a men's medal. This could put some pressure on the two participants, which will play right into one of their hands.

    They will be facing some tough competition. China poses the biggest threat. Zou Kai is the defending world champion, and teammate Zhang Chenglong had the best score in qualification.

    Other favorites include Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands, who was second in the qualifying round.

     

    Jonathan Horton

    Of all the men on the U.S. team, Horton is the most experienced and responds best to pressure. He won the silver medal on this apparatus in 2008 with very little preparation.

    With a desire to finally grab a U.S. medal, Horton changed up his routine three days prior to his competition. He added to the degree of difficulty and nailed his performance.

    Look for another stellar performance and a podium appearance in this event for the second consecutive Olympics. Like Beijing, he'll also need to roll out a much more difficult performance. His qualification routine only had a 6.8 difficulty score, which is well behind the 7.5 from other competitors.

    But that can be mostly fixed with a different dismount.

     

    Danell Leyva

    Leyva finished third in qualifications, two spots ahead of Horton. He will also need to roll out a more difficult routine in the finals, as his starting degree of difficulty was only 7.2.

    There is a chance both could reach the podium in the event, making this their best possibility for a medal in the individual events.