US Olympic Men's Gymnastics: John Orozco'S Blueprint to Rebound in All-Around
John Orozco choked in the men's gymnastics team final. Watching him throughout the competition the look on his face was a combination of scared and perhaps tired, while his body language screamed defeat.
There...the hard part it is said and out of the way. Now we can get on with the article with an eye to what comes next.
While it is tough to tell what all was going on without the benefit of being on the floor, it appeared neither his coaches or his teammates did anything to turn his attitude around.
It is possible that was because most of them were having similar issues.
The team found success when they competed with enthusiasm and energy, but that was missing through at least the first four rotations on Monday.
While there is nothing they can do about missing out on a team medal, it isn't too late to salvage some credibility in the individual events, particularly in the men's all-around competition.
1. Call His Family and Support System and Apologize
While this may seem a bit harsh, the first thing Orozco needed to do after his event was to apologize to those that he feels he let down.
Actually, he needed to dry his eyes and give himself a few minutes to breathe and absorb the loss. Then he needed to talk to his mother.
His family and even some friends made sacrifices to help him get to the Olympics and he needs to recognize that.
He got a good start when talking to the media.
The Chicago Tribune shared some of the comments made by the gymnasts after the event, including this confession from Orozco.
"It didn't go as planned today. I can't help but feel personally responsible because I did five events. I did the most out of everyone and I botched two of them. It hurts."
By my calculations, he had the team's lowest score on four of the five apparatus in which he appeared. But only two of his scores were in the bottom-five overall, so perhaps that is what he considers "botched."
But back on point, Orozco did let down his team and he let down himself.
But in talking to family he'll soon learn that he didn't let them down. His mother didn't drive him 30 miles to practice so he would win her a gold medal. The family didn't struggle through issues after his dad's stroke because they were expecting him to do something for their benefit.
No, John, they did it because they believe in you and wanted to support you.
I have a feeling his mother told him that he didn't let her down, she let him down by not having him more ready to deal with the pressure.
Before Orozco can move on he needs to understand the only person he failed was himself, and the only person he is responsible to is the man in the mirror...young as he is.
2. Bust out and Have Some Fun
John, if you are reading this, go to bed. You looked tired and need your rest, and it is too late for you to do this step before the all-around.
But the pressure of representing one's team, city, gym and country on the world's biggest athletic stage can be overwhelming. Orozco needs to gain a little perspective that there is life outside of the gym and it will still be there after the Olympics, win or lose.
And by John's reaction on Monday, he could really use a reason to smile.
3. Get Right with His Team
This may seem a bit low on the priority list, as his team is really the only group Orozco let down. But this also happens to be a two-way street.
This is a team competition and while Orozco owes his teammates his best possible effort, they owe him theirs. He didn't get it.
When watching Orozco over the past year it is clear that he doesn't show much emotion during competition. But he shows some, and on Monday he showed that his head wasn't right.
At that point a coach, a team captain, a teammate...someone needs to step up and ask him where his head is. Someone needed to remind him of how hard he's worked to get there, and that he has all the talent he needed to go out and succeed.
Someone needed to help him stop thinking about what could go wrong and remind him why things were going to go right.
It didn't happen and Orozco suffered because of it.
“John is a really strong guy,” Leyva said, according to a report by Kelly Whiteside in the USA TODAY. “I don’t think he needs much cuddling.”
Cuddling? No, and if he does I'm sure he'll find that outside his team. He likewise doesn't need to be coddled and told "everything is going to be OK." What he did need to be told is that he's better than what he's showing and to quit thinking about what is going wrong.
The team let Orozco down before he turned the table on them.
4. Focus on the Positive
Orozco has already shown he has the capabilities of succeeding in international competition. He's put in the work. He's trained hard, and he's battled back from a nasty ankle injury.
The only thing that was really missing on Monday was proper focus.
I've watched his vault again and again, and the one thing that is missing is focus.
He did everything right after he left the springboard. He got a good push off the vault and did what he needed to in the air.
The problem was he didn't hit the board properly. He was too close to the base and it simply absorbed all the energy he'd built up in his approach. He mis-timed his jump and instead of getting out over the board to allow it to do the work, he missed.
When athletes make such a simple mistake the problem is in the head, and usually they make the very mistake they are telling themselves not to make.
Orozco can't get back on the horse thinking "don't go slow, don't sit down, don't go slow." Instead, he needs to focus on what he needs to do. Running towards the vault he can't be thinking "don't miss on my jump."
Run hard, nail the board. Get a strong push, be mindful of the floor and stick the landing.
Orozco's errors weren't all big and they weren't from a lack of training. They were from a lack of focus, something that can easily be fixed.
5. Prove He Is a Fighter
Orozco's background of being a gymnast from the Bronx is well documented.
He's said in television and newspaper interviews how hard it was to do what he enjoyed while growing up in his neighborhood.
A male gymnast isn't very popular in the Bronx, but I didn't care what other kids thought.
He's become the face of music videos and an open defiance for anyone that wants to tell others what they can or can't do.
Well, John, your back is officially against the wall. It is time to prove you are, indeed, a fighter.
Following his meltdown he again reminded his fans that he's a fighter. "I'm going to go out there and fight for Team USA. I'm not even thinking about myself."
There is one thing Americans love more than a champion, and that is an underdog...someone that has fought through adversity and come out on top.
If one wants evidence, look at Michael Phleps. Just a few days ago many Americans were tired of him and his story. They couldn't bring themselves to root for him to win even more gold medals.
Following a rough fourth place finish and a pair of silver medals, fans began to feel for him. They saw the human side, and most wanted to see him and his relay team finally get him his first gold medal in London.
Now Orozco has his chance. Show you are a fighter, overcome adversity, and come out on top. It is the American dream and your fans, new or old, will love you for it.
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