John Orozco and Danell Leyva faced a tall task in London on Wednesday.
After an incredibly disappointing performance at the all-around team competition just two days earlier, they had to abandon any lingering emotions in the name of getting the job done in the individual all-arounds. They had to find some way to sustain the momentum the women's team brought to the U.S. when they won the all-around team gold on Tuesday.
In the end, one American conquered the pressure, while the other crumbled early.
Despite a rocky start to the all-around final, Danell Leyva finished strong with a final score of 90.698 to bring home a bronze for the U.S. The victory was bittersweet, though, as teammate John Orozco couldn't quite redeem himself after yet another rough performance on the pommel horse and finished in eighth with a score of 89.331.
It was the pommel horse that set the tone for both Leyva and Orozco—for better or worse—and for most of the field on Wednesday. That included gold medalist and three-time defending world champion Kohei Uchimura, whose 15.066 in the event—the second-best mark overall—was a substantial contributor to his victory.
Here's a closer look at how it all went down on Wednesday.
|1||Kohei Uchimura ||Japan||92.690|
|7||Kristian Thomas||Great Britain||89.406|
|10||Sergio Sasaki Junior||Brazil||88.965|
|13||Daniel Purvis||Great Britain||88.332|
|20||Soo Myun Kim||Korea||85.773|
|23||Javier Gomez Fuertes||Spain||84.431|
Full results can also be found at NBCOlympics.com.
Best Performance: Kohei Uchimura, Japan
According to SI.com, the man who is idolized in Japan with the same fervor Americans once reserved for Tiger Woods was expected to win the gold all along, and he didn't disappoint. He made up for a rough qualifying performance with a 15.066 on the pommel horse, a 15.333 on the still rings, a whopping 16.266 on the vault, a 15.325 on the parallel bars and a 15.6 on the horizontal bar.
On the floor—his last event—he sustained a bit of a fall midway through his routine but still came away with a 15.1.
According to Newser.com, Uchimura began competing when he was just three years old, and he was the first and only male gymnast to register three straight all-around world titles. Now, he can add a gold medal to his growing list of accomplishments—which now also includes the unofficial title of the best male gymnast ever.
Also of note during the finals was Uchimura's teammate, Kazuhito Tanaka, who wasn't even supposed to be a part of the individual all-around competition but worked his way in due to a teammate's injury after the qualifier.
He held onto second place for much of the competition until his very last event, when—like so many who came before him—he couldn't conquer the pommel horse. When his leg hit the top of the horse during his routine, his dreams of earning a medal came crashing down.
Next-Best Performance: Danell Leyva, USA
From the very beginning of this competition on Wednesday, it was clear that it was going to take a near-miracle for Danell Leyva to work himself into medal contention. Both he and teammate John Orozco struggled just enough in the early going to put their chances of medaling in serious jeopardy.
The top qualifier in the all-arounds put himself into a deep hole early on: After a solid floor routine in which he scored a 15.366, he had big problems on the pommel horse—a recurring theme for so many others during Wednesday's competition—and managed only a 13.5.
It may have been easy for Leyva to give up right then. It may have been easy for him to give in to the disappointment and keep making mistakes throughout the rest of the competition. But he didn't, and for each and every one of the rest of his events, he slowly but surely surged up the standings.
When you consider the fact that he was in 19th place after the pommel horse and he somehow finished with a bronze medal, Leyva's gusty performance seems even more impressive—even if he didn't win a gold. Particularly in gymnastics, the mental aspect of the competition is just as significant as the physical part.
Most Disappointing Performance: John Orozco, USA
Unfortunately, he couldn't do either.
The Bronx native started off with an excellent 15.433 on the floor, but it all went awry on the horse once again, where—after registering a 12.733 during the team competition earlier this week—he failed to show much improvement, scoring a second-worst 12.566 because he caught his leg on the horse at the end of his routine.
By the end of the first two rotations, Orozco was in last place, but it was all uphill from there. Particularly impressive were his performances on the rings, where he scored a third-best 15.2, and on the vault, where he tallied a 15.9.
The fact that Orozco finished in the top 10 is an accomplishment in itself—considering how far behind he was after the second rotation.