US cruises to lead in men’s gymnastics qualifying

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US cruises to lead in men’s gymnastics qualifying

LONDON — The Americans might be onto something with all their big talk.

By (AP)

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Published: Sat 28 Jul 2012, 11:18 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:17 PM

While perennial gymnastics powerhouses China and Japan bobbled and wobbled their way through men’s qualifying Saturday, the Americans proved they really do have the goods to contend for the gold medal. They didn’t count a single fall, and their final score of 275.342 is almost three points ahead of surprising Britain.

The O2 Arena erupted in applause when the final scores went up. The U.S. men looked up from their huddle, gave big smiles and a few fist pumps.

Japan, the heavy favorite coming into the meet, is third (270.503) after several uncharacteristic errors by three-time world champion Kohei Uchimura. Defending Olympic champion China, which also has won the last five world titles, is fourth (269.985) after its splat-filled day. Germany and Russia compete later Saturday.

Team finals are Monday, and the scoring format changes to the three-up, three-count, where three gymnasts compete on each event and all three scores count. But the Americans believe they’re actually better built for that high-risk, high-reward formula, and this performance will only fuel their confidence.

The United States hasn’t been atop the podium since Bart Conner and the Golden Gang in 1984. It hasn’t even been in the same league as China and Japan, really. But after a surprise bronze medal in Beijing and another bronze at last year’s world championships, this group has insisted it has the goods to get it done.

They sure looked it Saturday, performing with the kind of swagger usually reserved for the Chinese. Danell Leyva and John Orozco posted the highest individual scores, and the team had the highest total on both floor exercise and high bar. They had only three falls the entire day, and counted only four scores below 15.

After captain Jon Horton finished a high bar routine so electric it would make circus acrobats jealous, he stood on the edge of the podium and popped his uniform so the entire arena could see the “U-S-A” on the front.

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