The U.S. men's gymnastics team had high expectations for the London games. It is hard to believe that a lone bronze medal is enough to make Danell Leyva the MVP for the men.
The men had their eyes on several podiums, beginning with a gold-medal finish in the team competition. They thought they could claim two medals in the individual all-around competition and add a few more medals in the apparatus finals.
They wouldn't hit any of those goals.
The lone medal the men managed to grab in London was the bronze in the individual all-around, and Leyva barely managed that. The apparatus that destroyed the U.S. in team competition, the pommel horse, again took its toll.
Leyva and teammate John Orozco both struggled, leaving them a lot of ground to cover. Orozco actually outscored Leyva on the next two routines, but he was just too far back after his 12.566 on the horse.
Going into the final two rotations, Leyva had three competitors he'd need to outscore to reach the podium. Anything much less than posting the highest scores on the two bar routines would leave him out of the medals.
Leyva proceeded to show why he is the heart of the men's team. He produced excellent performances on the parallel bars and the high bar, indeed securing the top marks for each.
Combined with a little help from the field, it was enough to earn the bronze medal.
"This was definitely a redemption not only for me but for the whole Team USA," Leyva told the Associated Press. "I didn't do the pommel routine I wanted to do, that I knew that I could. But I used it to channel into positive energy. I kept fighting and finished strong, and I'm really, really happy with the way that I finished."
Leyva had one more shot at a medal, as he and Jonathan Horton qualified for the horizontal bar. But their routines lacked the difficulty level or execution to make them a medal threat.
Christine Brennan of the USA TODAY provided one last look at Leyva's performance.
That figure in blue is American Danell Leyva in the high bar final. twitter.com/cbrennansports…— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) August 7, 2012
This wasn't the Olympics the U.S. men expected, nor one they will be happy with. But at least Leyva was able to respond when his back was against the wall and grab an all-around medal.
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