2000 Olympians Sean Townsend and Stephen McCain landed big performances at the men’s all-around this evening at the 2001 World University Games to give the U.S. men’s gymnastics team one of the best international showings in recent history.

Leading the charge was Townsend who tied with China’s Zheng Lihui for fourth place overall, finishing with a score of 56.55. McCain meanwhile finished a respectable ninth, giving the U.S. two finishers in the top ten. The peformances of the two Houston natives came on the heels of a disappointing ninth place finish in the team competition on Thursday.
“This is a major victory for the U.S. men’s gymnastics team,” said an elated Kevin Mazeika, head coach of the U.S. men’s team. “One year out following the Olympic Games and we’ve showed tonight that we’re right there knocking on the door. This is a great morale boost for these two and is redemption for our showing in the team competition.”
China’s Yang Wei would claim gold medal honors with an overall score of 57.25, while Japan’s Tomita Hiroyuki and Tsukahara Naoya would finish tied for second with a score of 56.750.
Townsend’s night began with a spectacular routine in the parallel bars as the 21-year-old gymnast nailed the landing and earned a score of 9.625, which tied him for first with Lihui following the first rotation. His 9.625 would end up being the highest score of the evening on parallel bars. He followed that with strong routines on the high bar and floor (9.45), before slipping somewhat on pommel horse (8.95). He would then finish the evening in much the same way he started, scoring a 9.525 on rings followed by a 9.5 on vault.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Townsend, following his best international finish. “To be out there with that type of crowd and enthusiasm is what really drives me as a gymnast. It gave me a lot of motivation and drove me to a have a lot of fun and be relaxed. Once I hit that opening routine, I knew I was in for a good night. That took all the pressure off.”
The fourth place finish caps an already outstanding month for Townsend as he won his first U.S. title earlier this month. Townsend will not set his sights on the World Championships in October.
McCain, though not as spectacular as his teammate, was steady throughout the evening, scoring a high of 9.4 in the pommel horse. In seventh going into the final rotation, McCain slipped back a little following a mistake on the high bar. But overall, not a bad finish for someone who contemplated retirement following the 2000 Olympic Games.
“I couldn’t be happier for him (McCain),” said Mazeika. “He’s been the driving force on this team and to see him do well is a result of him re-committing himself to the sport.”

Men’s All-around results (Top Ten)

1. Yang Wei (CHN), 57.25;
2. Tomita Hiroyuki (JPN), 56.75;
2. Tsukahara Naoya (JPN) 56.75;
4. Sean Townsend (USA) 56.55;
4. Zheng Lihui (CHN) 56.55;
6. Dan Potra (ROM) 55.575;
7. Kim Hyon Il (PRK) 55.3;
8. Ioan Suciu (ROM) 55.15;
9. Stephen McCain (USA) 54.85;
10. Geolgi Glebenkov (RUS) 54.65