After the qualifying round of the Men's Gymnastics Team Competition, the athletes were elated over their unexpected success, placing 1st overall and surpassing the teams expected to place highest, i.e., China and Japan. However, along with the accomplishment came a great deal of pressure, as the daunting final round loomed around the corner.
Disappointment was the feeling that came next, as the U.S. team slipped from 1st to 5th, behind the favorites for the wins, China and Japan, as well as Great Britain and the Ukraine.
Now, looking forward to the Individual All Around Competition, hopefully our competitors, John Orozco and Danell Leyva, can recover from the mental duress of the team's setback, and compete to their fullest potential.
We can look at the men's team to see why they fell out of the running for gold. Under the extreme pressure to repeat their performances from earlier, John Orozco and Danell Leyva both received considerable penalties on pommel for falling from the apparatus, a mistake that can be caused by even the slightest imperfections in form.
During a pommel horse routine, only the hands are allowed to touch the apparatus, any other touch is a deduction. So, when John Orozco lost momentum and sat on the pommel, the deduction was huge. (This is also very uncharacteristic of Orozco.) Danell Leyva had to count a fall on the pommel, another huge deduction. (Many gymnasts refer to the pommel as "The Beast", and it was apparent that the "Beast" was not kind to Team USA.)
At this point, the team had dug themselves into a hole that was too difficult to recover from. Danell Leyva suffered another blow to his score with a fall on the Vault, costing the team more crucial tenths. Trying to keep their composure to recover from these setbacks, the pressure gave them, as it would anyone in their position, a feeling of despair, which cost them the momentum that had carried them to victory only a day earlier, even though the rest of their routines were impeccable.
Furthermore, their rival teams saw an opposite trend, as they gained momentum in the final round. The favored countries China and Japan were able to hit their routines spot on, where they had difficulty doing so in the preceding competition.
In the next round of Men's Gymnastics competition (Individual All-Around Finals), perhaps the lessons learned, and the desire to earn gold in Men's gymnastics will, hopefully, drive our individual all-around competitors (John Orozco and Danell Leyva) to outperform their competition. They are incredible gymnasts and have the potential to be on the medal podium.