SAN DIEGO, July 30, 2012 – What’s an Olympic Games without a little judging controversy?
With Princes William and Harry in the stands looking on, it seemed the British men’s gymnastic team had pulled off the performance of their lives in the men’s team competition.
While a powerhouse Chinese team got out ahead and was never seriously challenged for the gold medal, silver and bronze were hotly contested. Buoyed by the excitement of the home crowd, the British men nailed their routines, capped by a tremendous vault by Kristian Thomas, scoring a huge 16.550.
But Ukraine and Japan were hot on their heels. Japan seemed to drop out of contention with a poor round on the pommel horse. As the scores were tallied, the Brits found themselves in silver medal position, just a fraction in front of the Ukrainian team, 271.711 to 271.526.
But the Japanese coaches made an official request for the judging to be reconsidered due to an error in the difficulty scoring for the pommel horse dismount by the final competitor, Kohei Uchimura. Judges gave him a low score of 5.4 for difficulty, and an overall score of 13.466.
But the Japanese coaches protested, saying Uchimura’s dismount should have been worth more. While judges huddled around a video screen, Uchimura and his teammates sat stone-faced against a wall.
The inquiry was accepted. After what must have seemed like time standing still for the gymnasts and especially the British fans, judges finally announced the score for Uchimura was revised upward seven-tenths of a point, from 13.466 to 14.166. It increased Japan’s total score to 271.952, enough to overtake Great Britain for the silver medal, with the Brits getting bronze and the Ukranians out of the medals entirely.
It was still a terrific accomplishment for the British team, their first men’s gymnastics team medal in over 100 years. Once the booing crowd got over the shock of the reversal of the medals, they gave their athletes an enthusiastic greeting as they came to the podium.
The Ukrainian gymnasts had been thrilled by their bronze medal, as they were not considered top contenders. They should be proud of a fourth place finish on this important world stage, but it will be hard not to think about the bronze medal that slipped through their fingers.
The Japanese team wisely refrained from showing any extreme elation at winning silver, reading the mood of the crowd.
The American men’s team wasn’t involved in this drama. It had already played out its own drama, overcome by nerves and performing badly in their first few events. The team found itself in last place after three rotations. John Orozco wiped away tears after falling on his vault landing.
The men fought back for pride’s sake, enjoying great routines on the high bar. They needed a miracle to even think about reaching for a bronze medal, and they didn’t get any. Orozco, Danell Leyva and Jonathan Horton all did their best, but they could only improve one spot, to sixth place. It was a serious disappointment.
The Americans must now regroup and get their heads together for the all-around competition on Tuesday. Danell Leyva and John Orozco are both in the competition. In the individual events, Jacob Dalton with compete in floor exercise; the injured Sam Mikulak will compete on vault; and Leyva and Horton will compete on the high bar. None of the American gymnasts will compete in the parallel bars, pommel horse or rings finals.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She writes on professional cycling and covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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