Sunday, July 29, 2012

Strong Showing in Olympics' First Day

Jonathan Horton competes on the high bar during day 3 of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials at HP Pavilion on June 30, 2012 in San Jose, California. (June 29, 2012 - Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America)
LONDON -- The men's gymnastics competition began Saturday at the 2012 Olympic Games with an impressive showing by the United States in the qualification round at North Greenwich Arena.

The U.S., including OU letterwinner Jonathan Horton(2005-08) and senior Jake Dalton, scored 275.342 in their session to put them in first place overall, nearly three points ahead of Great Britain, who surprised China in the first session. The United States' closest competition in their session was Japan, who finished nearly five points behind.

With the top overall score, the U.S. advanced to the team finals. Horton and Dalton each advanced to individual event finals in the horizontal bar and floor exercise, respectively.

"I'm very pleased with Team USA' s performance today," OU head coach Mark Williams said. "Finishing first in the qualification round puts the team in a great position for the finals Monday night."

Horton scored 56.565 in four events, while Dalton scored 46.633 in three events. Horton earned the top U.S. score in the still rings and the second-highest score in the horizontal bar, while Dalton scored the top score in the floor event and second-highest score in the still rings and vault events. Sam Mikulak competed in four events, scoring 75.348 while Danell Leyva and John Orozco competed in all six events, scoring 91.265 and 90.597, respectively.

"Jake was great on his events, contributing three 15+ scores and making the floor finals," Williams said. "Jonathan also did well today with a good routine on rings and making high bar finals as well."

“We try to stay in our own USA bubble, we just do our thing," Dalton said. "When I got started on rings the second event I was fired up and ready to go.”

On still rings, Dalton started the USA off on a strong note with a hit routine that included a stuck double-twisting double-back dismount to score a 15.100. Horton closed out the event for the USA with his jam packed routine, including an Azarian Maltese and tucked double-twisting double-back dismount to grab the USA’s high score on rings at 15.166. Leyva scored a 14.600, and Orozco hit a nice routine and stuck his one-and-a-half twisting double back to score a 15.066.The final score for the USA on rings was 45.332.

In the floor event, Dalton earned the highest score of the day in the event for the Americans. Competing last, Dalton's routine included an Arabian double layout mount and a triple twist dismount, which scored a 15.633.Orozco led hitting a solid set including a stuck two-and-a-half dismount to score a 15.166. Leyva followed with a layout double-twisting double-back mount and a double layout dismount to score 15.100. Mikulak mounted with a double-twisting double tuck and dismounted with a triple full to score 15.366.

“Today was great. We walked out there and it all kind of sunk in," Dalton said. "It’s such a great feeling to be here competing for our country. It’s a dream come true to compete here.”

On the horizontal bar, Horton scored the second-highest total for the United States. He showed incredible release moves scoring a 15.566. Mikulak finished well with his layout double-twisting double-back dismount to score a 14.033. Orozco hit a clean set with his Liukin and layout Tkatchev to score a 15.266, while Leyva anchored high bar with his 15.866.

Dalton anchored for the U.S. on the vault with a Kasamatsu double twist on his first vault, scoring 15.900. He attempted a second vault, a layout double front, but sat down on the finish for a 14.766. Dalton's 15.900 was the American's second-highest score in the event. Leyva led off with a nice Kasamatsu to score a 15.500. Orozco followed with a front handspring double full to score a 15.800. Mikulak blasted a Kasamatsu double to score a 16.300 before performing a second vault for event finals consideration and also scored a 15.866 on his front handspring double front.

Horton struggled on the pommel horse, scoring a 12.700 in the first event. His teammates recovered nicely , scoring a 43.965 that included Leyva’s 14.866, Orozco’s 14.766 and Mikulak’s 14.333.

On parallel bars, Horton had an uncharacteristic fall to score a 13.133. Mikulak dismounted with a double pike to score 15.316. Orozco scored a 14.533 for his routine, which included a front toss, peach half, peach to front uprise double back, and stuck his double pike dismount. Leyva anchored parallel bars showing his world-class style on this event scoring a 15.333.

“We did a really good job today and stayed within our own little team,” said Horton. “We are going to focus on the next day. Obviously it is a confidence boost, but we are going to take it one step at a time – move on to the next event, the next routine."

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