BEIJING, Aug. 12, 2008 – The U.S. Olympic Team for men’s gymnastics won the team bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, held at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China. The U.S. men finished with a total score of 275.850 to win their second consecutive Olympic team medal after claiming silver in 2004. China won the gold medal with 286.125 points with Japan taking second at 278.875 points. The U.S. women compete in the team finals tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. local Beijing time, which will be shown live on NBC in the United States.
“The whole way through, we focused on one event at a time, one routine at a time,” said Kevin Mazeika, head coach of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for men’s gymnastics. “It’s just unbelievable considering everything we’ve been through. It’s been a roller coaster ride. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys, of all the coaches and this whole collective, collaborative effort.”
The members of the bronze-medal team are: Alexander Artemev of Highlands Ranch, Colo./Team Chevron; Raj Bhavsar of Houston/Team Chevron; Joseph Hagerty of Rio Rancho, N.M./Team Chevron; Jonathan Horton of Houston/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. Paul and Morgan Hamm withdrew from the team due to injuries.
“I think the most important thing for us was to be on that podium, which we knew that we could do,” said Horton, who will compete in the all-around finals on Aug. 14. “Bronze, silver, gold, it doesn’t matter. We’re excited because nobody thought we’d be close.”
The USA began the competition on still rings, posting a score of 46.375. Horton earned the team’s highest score with a 15.625, followed by Tan and Bhavsar with a 15.425 and a 15.325, respectively.
Horton again led the USA with a 16.200 on his stuck handspring double front vault. Bhavsar posted a 16.125 on his handspring double full vault with Spring earning a 15.900 on his Kasamatsu one-and-a-half for a total team score of 48.225.
On parallel bars, the USA earned a total of 47.050. Spring posted a 15.850 to top the USA’s scores, followed by Horton with a 15.625 and Bhavsar with a 15.575. The USA was in first place halfway through the competition with 141.650. China was second at 140.825 and France was third with 140.025 points.
With high-flying release moves and chants of “USA” from the crowd, the U.S. men posted a score of 46.925 on horizontal bar. Horton and Spring earned a 15.700 and a 15.675, respectively, with each sticking his dismount, a laid-out triple double for Horton and a triple back for Spring. Hagerty earned a 15.550.
With a score of 49.325 on vault, China moved into the lead after the fourth rotation with a four-event score of 190.150. The USA dropped to second with 188.575 points and Japan was third with a 185.200.
Horton led the USA on floor exercise with a score of 15.575 after nailing all of his tumbling passes, including his tucked full in dismount. Spring posted a 15.200 for his routine that included a triple full dismount. Hagerty rounded out the USA’s scoring with a 14.625. The team earned a total of 45.400 on floor exercise.
Heading into the sixth and final rotation, China was in the lead with 239.175 points, followed by the USA with a 233.975 and Japan with a 232.275. Artemev’s full Kere into his flare sequence on the pommel horse had the crowd cheering, and he earned the USA’s highest score on that event with a 15.350. Bhavsar posted a 13.750 and Tan earned a 12.775. The USA’s total pommel horse score was 41.875.
“It’s been an up-and-down roller coaster,” Artemev said. “For me personally, I usually get excited about things too quickly and then if I have a let down, I get pretty angry about it. So I taught myself not to handle situations like that, to take it a little bit more professionally. I learned that from Dave with the way he handled things (being an alternate). This is a nine-man team. Paul, Morgan and Dave, this is for them, too.”
“It’s a dream come true, and dreams can come true,” Bhavsar said. “I’m a firm believer that in life, when you have nothing left to give, you have to dig down deep and find it within you to keep going. I hope that my message carries into the spirit of other people that if I can do it, so can you.”
“I’d characterize this medal as a nine-man team,” Hagerty said. “This was for our country. This was for Dave, Paul and Morgan. This is for everybody, our friends and family.”
“I think the medal was somewhat unexpected, but we knew that we had this potential,” Spring said. “I know a lot of people doubted that we would make the second day (team finals), but this team never doubted ourselves. We had two last-minute replacements and anything you threw at this team, we rolled with it with smiles on our faces.”
“We pulled together,” Tan said. “We had that support from everyone. We went out there and showed what we could do today. My day didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but I was focused, I stayed on and I fought as hard as I could. I believe I left it all out there, heart and soul.”
Artemev and Horton will compete in the all-around finals on Aug. 14, with Artemev in the pommel horse finals on Aug. 17 and Horton in the horizontal bar finals on Aug. 19.
2008 Olympic Games
National Indoor Stadium
Aug. 12, 2008
Team final results
1. China, 286.125
2. Japan, 278.875
3. USA, 275.80
4. Germany, 274.600
5. South Korea, 274.375
6. Russia, 274.300
7. Romania, 274.175
8. France, 272.875
USA INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
Raj Bhavsar – 15.325
Jonathan Horton – 15.625
Kevin Tan – 15.425
TOTAL – 46.375
Joey Hagerty – 15.550
Jonathan Horton – 15.700
Justin Spring – 15.675
TOTAL – 46.925