RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, July 14, 2007 – The U.S. Men’s Team made up nearly an 11-point deficit to win the bronze team medal in artistic gymnastics at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. The USA finished just 0.6 points behind Puerto Rico and 0.3 behind Brazil.
"Our guys showed a great deal of fortitude today," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "They worked together as a team to overcome a rocky start and finished strong. We are proud of the way they performed today."
"We are very pleased to come out with a medal," said Mike Burns, head coach for the men’s team. "Obviously we wanted a different color, but having the struggle we had and to come away with a medal is encouraging. These guys never gave up during the entire course of the competition.
"After about the first three events (in the second subdivision), we knew it was going to come down between Brazil and us (for second and third)," said Burns. "It was exciting sitting up in the stands and watching to see how Brazil was going to do. It came down to the last guy, and we knew exactly what he needed to score. They beat us by .3 and then with .3 between gold and silver, it was a very tight meet. In competitions like this, as close as they are, you can’t give things away."
The men’s team competition was split into two subdivisions, and the U.S. men were in second place by just 0.6 points after the first subdivision concluded. The six-man squad started slowly, suffering some unfortunate errors, but the team rallied to finish the last three events of still rings, vault and parallel bars by hitting each and every routine.
The men started on high bar, where Justin Spring of Burke, Va., posted the team’s highest score of 14.650. Despite a missed Weiler Kip to a full turn, he nailed his triple-back dismount. Todd Thornton of Houston was second for the U.S. with a 14.400. David Durante of Garwood, N.J., and Joey Hagerty of Rio Rancho, N.M., rounded out the top four scores.
On floor, Spring had a solid routine, earning a 15.150. Guillermo Alvarez of Denver also turned in a clean routine, posting a 15.050. The floor exercise proved tough for both Sean Golden of Camden, N.J., and Hagerty. Golden, who still earned a 14.250, had a short landing on his dismount, slightly injuring his ankle and wrist. Hagerty tweaked his knee after his tumbling pass and went on to earn a 14.450. Durante was the fifth competitor for the USA.
Pommel horse was the toughest for the U.S. team. With only four men competing, each routine counted for the team score. Thornton, who went first, was the only U.S. man to cleanly complete his routine. Alvarez began with a strong performance but lost his momentum, at one point falling onto the horse. A misplaced hand interrupted Durante’s routine, and Hagerty pulled through despite his injured knee.
Still rings launched the U.S. team’s comeback, which enabled them to nearly make up a 11-point deficit after the first three events. Thornton started the roll with a well-executed routine that earned him a 14.200. Alvarez also executed a good routine, which included his double-twisting, double-back dismount, for his 14.750. Durante was next, raising the bar with his 14.900. Golden also nailed his routine, including his skill (back lever pull to Maltese Cross) that starts with the body below the rings and is pulled up, and had only a small step on his double salto stretched dismount.
Spring, who just switched to a Lopez vault that has a 17.00 start value, posted a 16.400 for the highest vault score in the competition. Golden had the second highest vault score at 16.350. Durante and Alvarez, as well as Thornton who stepped in for Hagerty, also had solid vaults.
The team finished up on parallel bars, where all five had well executed, hit routines, to end on a high note.
The team competition featured a five-up, four-count system, which means that five gymnasts compete toward the team score, with the four best counting. The women’s team competition, held later today, will feature the same format.
The men’s all-around competition is on July 15, with the women’s set for July 16. The individual event finals for both men and women are July 17.
2007 Pan Am Games
Final Team Results
1. Puerto Rico, 353.900
2. Brazil, 353.600
3. USA*, 353.300