It's only Olympic day four, and already the gymnastics world has experienced plenty of shocking moments and proud accomplishments. The U.S. teams are being talked about for both their successes and disappointments. While the favored women's team met expectations and won the team gold -- their first since 1996 and second ever -- the men's team, who finished first in qualifiers, placed a disappointing fifth. Luckily for these athletes, their programs are far from over. Nearly all of the gymnasts will compete in either the all-around competition (August 1 for men, August 2 for women) or the event finals (August 5 through August 7). These contests will give the men a chance for redemption and the women the opportunity to cement their dominance as gymnastics powerhouses.
All-Around Competition Preview:
The U.S. men are in good shape coming into the all-around competition: Dannell Leyva qualified first, and teammate John Orozco qualified in fourth. However, as we learned from the men's team finals, qualifying in first does not guarantee a medal. Dannell Leyva had a decent performance in the team finals. He threw down a great high bar routine, but he also flubbed pommel horse, which always presents a challenge for the Americans. If he performs at his usual level of excellence, he still has a good chance of winning at least a medal.
John Orozco has more work to do if he wants to medal in the all-around. While he has beaten Leyva before, he needs to regain his confidence after a disastrous competition at team finals, where he also made mistakes on pommel horse and fell on his vault landing. If Orozco practices hard and stays calm throughout the competition, he could improve his standings and become an Olympic success story.
Leyva and Orozco will be competing against strong contenders from Russia, Germany, and Great Britain, as well as Kohei Uchimura of Japan. Uchimura was expected to blow away the all-around competition, but after a terrible qualifiers where he finished in ninth and a so-so performance at the team finals, his frontrunner status has vanished.
Much of the focus surrounding the U.S. women's upcoming all-around competition has been directed toward the surprise ousting of Jordyn Wieber, rather than the two gymnasts who will be competing, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. Douglas was expected to compete in the all-around, having battled for the top spot with Wieber in their recent competitions. She qualified third for the all-around and also had a great day at the team finals, hitting all of her routines. She did seem a little subdued and unlike her usual smiley, peppy self, so we'll see if that team gold gives her the confidence to bring joy back into her gymnastics.
The most interesting gymnast to watch in the all-around will be Raisman. She actually qualified ahead of Douglas, in second place after Viktoria Komova of Russia. Raisman has always taken a backseat to Wieber and Douglas, so it's unknown how she'll hold up in a pressure-filled, individual competition without her teammates around her. Team captain Raisman is known for her calmness and consistency, so she was the perfect person to perform the final routine for the U.S. at the team competition and clinch the gold medal. She is the U.S. national champion on beam and floor, as well as the world bronze medalist on floor, so she has the potential to score even ahead of Douglas.
The U.S. women's main competitors will be their Russian counterparts, teammates Komova and Aliya Mustafina. Komova qualified in first for the all-around, four-tenths of a point ahead of Raisman. Mustafina actually qualified in fifth, behind Wieber. The Russian women suffered a disappointing second place finish after unraveling on floor in the team competition, so Komova and Mustafina will be out for blood and medals. If Raisman and Douglas follow the classic gymnast piece of advice and compete like they train, they could challenge the Russians and both medal.
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