"Fueled by an underdog’s mentality, a burglar’s guts and the grace under pressure that is a minimum requirement for performing on the Olympic stage, the men of USA Gymnastics won a bronze medal Tuesday afternoon (Monday night CDT) in the men’s team competition.
China won the gold medal with 286.125 points, and Japan slipped past the U.S. on the final apparatus to take the silver with 278.875. The U.S. scored 275.85 to edge Germany for the bronze.
The Americans were fueled through the opening routines by the bold, rock-solid performances of a squad that included Houston gymnasts Jonathan Horton and Raj Bhavsar, and at the end by Sasha Artemev’s redemptive series of twirls around the pommel horse as anchor man on the team’s weakest apparatus.
In the end, Artemev turned to the nearest television camera and spoke for all: “This team performed at its best today,” he said. “We showed everybody the heart and soul of this team.”
With the loss of two-time Olympians Paul Hamm and Morgan Hamm to injury, the Americans took the floor without a single returning Olympian. But they perservered and, on a night when they needed to be virtually error-free to medal, they were virtually error-free most of the way.
And they will walk away with a bronze medal that, to American eyes, will shine just as brightly as the gold medal that China and its arena filled with fans celebrated with such emotion.
The U.S. men, fueled by an early turn on vault, the highest-scoring event under the open-ending scoring system, actually led after three rotations and were second entering their final two events.
Potential cracks in the façade became apparent on floor, and it appeared the final break may have come on pommel horse, where Kevin Tan straddled the horse toward the end of his routine and received a score of 12.775.
But Artemev, who was left off the team because of his penchant for falling off the horse, his best event, came through with a score of 15.35 to salvage the bronze."
I was absolutely blown away by his performance on the Pommel horse. I was sitting on my couch with my head in the pillow afraid to watch, the guy looked pretty nervous to me. But he completely nailed it! And that's just awesome.
And Jonathan Horton? Did he mess up once today?? He stuck every single landing! You go, Horton! I love how supportive they all were of each other, cheering everybody on.
Congratulations to the Men's US gymnastics team!
Also, I want to say, China was completely deserving of first place, but I bet the US's bronze feels very much like a gold right now.