Jonathan Horton
© FIG Photo

BEIJING, Aug. 9, 2008 — The U.S. Olympic Team for men’s gymnastics advanced to the team finals on Aug. 12 by finishing sixth in the qualification round at the 2008 Olympic Games, held at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China. Alexander Artemev of Highlands Ranch, Colo., and Jonathan Horton of Houston, qualified for the all-around finals, as well as the pommel horse and horizontal bar finals, respectively. The women’s qualification round is tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m. local Beijing time. The U.S. women are in subdivision 2 and will compete at 1:30 p.m.

Reigning team world champion China finished first in the qualification round with 374.675 points, followed by 2004 Olympic team champion Japan in second with a 369.550 and Russia in third at 366.225. Germany and South Korea finished both finished at 365.675. The USA earned a total of 365.200 points for sixth. Rounding out the team finalists are France in seventh and Romania in eighth. Scores from the qualification round do not carry forward to the finals.

“To make a major team personnel change, compete in the first subdivision and qualify for the team finals is a huge accomplishment, and we are looking forward to competing on Tuesday,” said Kevin Mazeika, head coach for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for men’s gymnastics. “We accomplished our first set of goals — to go out and be consistent, and to qualify for team finals. We will go through our usual process and review our performances in the prelims, and the coaches will meet to determine our line up for the 6-3-3 format in the finals.

“They did absolutely outstanding today. It was a lot of fun out there. The guys were very consistent and they showed a lot of spirit from start to finish. It was just a great day for Team USA.”

The competition format for the qualification round is that six gymnasts are on a team, five athletes compete on each event and the top four scores count toward the team score. In the final round, three athletes compete on each event and all three scores count.

In addition to Artemev and Horton, the U.S. Olympic Team for men’s gymnastics includes: Raj Bhavsar of Houston/Team Chevron; Joseph Hagerty of Rio Rancho, N.M./Team Chevron; Justin Spring of Burke, Va./Team Chevron; and Kevin Tan of Fremont, Calif./Team Chevron. The replacement athlete is David Durante of Garwood, N.J./Team Chevron.

Horton and Artemev advanced to the all-around finals after finishing seventh and 17th, respectively. Horton finished sixth on horizontal bar in the qualification round, and Artemev was sixth on pommel horse. Tan is the first reserve athlete on still rings, and Hagerty is the third reserve athlete on horizontal bar. Listed qualification finishes follow the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) rule that allows no more than two athletes per country to advance to the final round.

“I think we proved today to all the naysayers that we’re still medal contenders,” Horton said.

“I didn’t really have time to think about anything, so there was less pressure,” Artemev said of being named to the team on Thursday night after Morgan Hamm withdrew because of an injury. “My first event (still rings) was a little shaky, but I didn’t have podium training (to train on the competition floor). I’ve been doing these routines for a while now and I’m pretty confident in what I do.”

The USA began the day on still rings with a score of 60.550. Tan posted the highest score for the USA with a 15.725, followed by Bhavsar and Horton who both posted scores of 15.325. Spring rounded out the U.S. scores on still rings with a 14.175. Artemev was the first gymnast on still rings and scored a 13.675.

Bhavsar’s 16.175 led the USA on vault in the second rotation. Horton scored a 15.950, followed by Spring at 15.900. Artemev contributed the final score with a 15.825. Hagerty’s 15.700 did not count toward the overall team score of 63.850 for vault.

Moving to parallel bars, the USA posted five scores above a 15.000. Spring and Bhavsar led the men with scores of 15.800 and 15.625, respectively. Horton earned a 15.525 and Hagerty posted a 15.350. Artemev’s 15.175 did not count toward the overall team vault score of 62.300 for parallel bars.

Horton earned the USA’s highest score on horizontal bar with a 15.575. The other three scores that counted toward the team score were: Hagerty, 15.400, Spring, 15.375 and Artemev, 14.925. Tan’s 14.425 was not part of the total horizontal bar score of 61.275.

On floor exercise, the USA scored a total 59.900. Horton posted a 15.350, followed by Hagerty at 15.275. Artemev and Spring rounded out the USA’s team scoring with a 14.875 and a 14.400, respectively. Bhavsar scored a 14.175.

The USA had a score of 307.875 heading into the final rotation and finished on pommel horse with a 57.325. Artemev’s 15.250 was the USA’s highest score for pommel horse. Tan earned a 14.100 and Bhavsar scored a 14.050. Both Horton and Hagerty earned scores of 13.925, but only one counted toward the team score.

“The U.S. team is top notch,” Bhavsar said. “I was a little nervous, but this is a lifelong dream and the American heart is huge. I think we’re gaining momentum.”

“We were motivating each other and we were cheering the whole time,” Hagerty said. “We never came out of the clouds. We loved every minute out there.”

“I’m ecstatic,” Spring said. “This was great. It was a lot of fun. We got the first-meet jitters out of the way. We had a lot of hits, but I think we’ve got a lot of room for improvement. I think that’s the motivation that we need to go into team finals and just squeak out those last few tenths. It’s going to be a great meet.”

“I thought we did exactly what we needed to do today,” Tan said. “We needed to come here, stay level-headed and do our job. This team kept together, stayed in it and fought all the way through. Being in the first session, scores may be a little lower, but we definitely set the pace. There’s no question.”

The top eight countries advance to the team finals. The top 24 gymnasts in the all-around with a limit of two per country move on to the finals. The top eight athletes in each event with a limit of two per country advance to the individual event finals. The countries and athletes who advance to the various final rounds will not be determined until the conclusion of the final subdivision. Scores from the qualification round do not carry forward to the finals.

The men’s team finals are Aug. 12 (10 a.m.), with the all-around finals on Aug. 14 (11 a.m.). The individual event finals are Aug. 17-19, (6 p.m.) each day.

2008 Olympic Games
National Indoor Stadium
Beijing, China
Qualification round results

1. China – 374.675
2. Japan – 369.550
3. Russia – 366.225
4. South Korea – 365.675
5. Germany – 365.675
6. USA – 365.200
7. France – 361.200
8. Romania – 359.350

USA Individual Results

Rotation 1 – Rings
Alexander Artemev – 13.675
Justin Spring – 14.175
Raj Bhavsar – 15.325
Jonathan Horton – 15.325
Kevin Tan – 15.725

Rotation 2 – Vault
Joey Hagerty – 15.700
Alexander Artemev – 15.825
Raj Bhavsar – 16.175
Jonathan Horton – 15.950
Justin Spring – 15.900

Rotation 3 – Parallel Bars
Joey Hagerty – 15.350
Alexander Artemev – 15.175
Raj Bhavsar – 15.625
Jonathan Horton – 15.525
Justin Spring – 15.800

Rotation 4 – Horizontal Bars
Kevin Tan – 14.425
Alexander Artemev – 14.925
Jonathan Horton – 15.575
Justin Spring – 15.575
Joey Hagerty – 15.400

Rotation 5 – Floor Exercise
Raj Bhavsar – 14.175
Alexander Artemev – 14.875
Joey Hagerty – 15.275
Jonathan Horton – 15.350
Justin Spring – 14.400

Rotation 6 – Pommel Horse
Kevin Tan – 14.100
Joey Hagerty – 13.825
Jonathan Horton – 13.925
Raj Bhavsar – 14.050
Alexander Artemev – 15.250