When John Orozco picked his head up out of his hands long enough to see his score after his utter disappointment on the pommel horse, the feelings he had probably didn't get any better. He scored a 12.566, which was good enough for 23rd.
While he certainly rebounded on just about every other apparatus, placing no worse than eighth on any of them, the running theme surrounding Orozco was how his trip to London and to the XXX Olympic Games was a failure.
That simply is not the case.
As a team, the US Men's Gymnastics team failed. You can assign any portion of that failure to Orozco you want, but to say that he should shoulder it alone is wrong.
Consider this: In the individual final, Orozco outscored countryman and bronze medal-winner Danell Levya in three of the six events. However, his massive faults have garnered far more attention than his subtle victories.
To those who would say that he choked, I'd probably agree. But to suggest that he is a failure because of that is unfair. A 19-year-old kid from the Bronx on the biggest stage in the world made a mistake. It was the all-around finals in the Olympics, I'm guessing one or two other people would have as well, not to mention the 16 other finalists that he finished ahead of.
If anything, this is a story about how difficult it is to succeed at the Olympics. One bad turn and, all of the sudden, the goal you've been working towards your entire life vanishes in front of you in a puff of smoke.
John Orozco's story isn't one of failure, and it doesn't have to be over yet.
Do you still find Orozco's story inspiring?
I know that 19 is about as old is you can be in gymnastics, so another run at a gold medal may be out of the question, but you're never too old to inspire people.
That is where John Orozco can truly succeed. If a kid from the Bronx who tears his Achilles tendon in 2010 after having to work to help support the family following his father's stroke can make it to the Olympics, who can't?
Orozco's story and popularity go beyond his success in terms of medals because that isn't how he should be judged. Of the millions of people he has inspired across the country, how many of them do you think are young boys who now dream of being the next John Orozco?
His story could be the spark for a generation of young athletes who find themselves surrounded by a similar situation, with the idea of an opportunity to compete for your country in the Olympics seeming far-fetched.
If it isn't, it won't be because he didn't medal.
It'll be because people read the wrong part of the story.
They always say it isn't the journey so much as the destination anyway.