August 12, 2008

Jonathan Horton High Bar Routine 2008 Olympics (video)

Jonathan Horton's High Bar Routine in Beijing that helped the US get the Bronze in the 2008 Olympics.

Jonathan Horton High Bar Routine 2008 Olympics (video)

The three-time defending men's gymnastics took back the Olympic gold medal it had lost with a disastrous fifth-place finish in Athens by dominating the still rings and vault and and topping silver-medalist Japan.

The U.S. was in second place going into their final rotation, the pommel horse, the apparatus that has been a nemesis. After Kevin Tan sat on the horse and received a 12.775, Raj Bhavsar did such a basic routine he only scored 13.750. But Alexander Artemev finished with a rousing swing, scored 15.350 and helped the U.S.hang on for an unexpected bronze medal.

On the very first routine of Tuesday morning, Chen Yibing, 23, an Olympic rookie, finished his final floor pass by staggering out of bounds and slapping his hands to his head. His score of 14.575 brought a collective groan at the National Indoor Stadium.

The Chinese men were heavy favorites to defend the team gold medal they had won in Sydney in 2000 but instead had a series of major falls in the team finals and were a dispirited fifth place. Japan won the team gold and the United States, led by Paul and Morgan Hamm, won the silver medal. The word "choke" was used about China.

After Chen's inauspicious start, though, Yang Wei and another youngster, 20-year-old Zou Kai, powered through their floor tumbling with tightly-wound somersaults and flips to knock away bad memories. Yang had a solid 15.425 and Zou an excellent 15.925 and as Japan's Takuya stumbled badly to lead off on floor for Japan, it seemed a Chinese rout might be on.

This Chinese team is filled with veterans. Leader Yang, 28, is a three-time Olympian who won team gold and individual all-around silver in 2000; Xiao Qin, and Li Xiaopeng (who won team gold and individual gold on parallel bars in 2000 and a parallel bronze in 2004); all have Olympic experience.

After its Olympic disappointment in 2004 the Chinese men have won the past three world championships and led the qualifying round here by almost five points over defending gold-medalist Japan.

The United States came into the Olympics with lowered expectations after both Hamm brothers withdrew within 10 days of each other with injuries. They were thrilled to qualify sixth and within about one and a half points of third-placed qualifier Russia.

The American started on still rings where Raj Bhavsar, who had been the replacement for Paul Hamm, did a steady turn and scored 15.325, exactly what he did in team qualifications.

But the judges took nearly five minutes reviewing video of his routine while Jonathan Horton had to wait to go up while he hopped back and forth from foot to foot. Horton still executed well and hit a solid landing but Kevin Tan, who has been doing routines worth nearly 17 points all year, was given a 15.425 after another long review of his routine by the judges.

Long reviews weren't happening only to the Americans. It is a new system at this Olympics where judges have video screens and can review every element of every event.

China's Huang Xu had to wait about seven minutes before his pommel horse score of 14.750 was posted and the Chinese fans booed loudly. It was on the third rotation for China, the still rings that the team began to pull well ahead.

Huang, Yang and Chen Yibing all scored over 16.000 and the arena erupted. Chinese flags waved and even for those who don't speak Mandarin the chant was clear. "Let's go…China…Let's go…China." Chen's was the final score of 16.575 was posted and the team high-fived and acknowledged the crowd.

The rest of the competition would be used for sorting out the other medals.

The American fans began tentatively making themselves heard with a "USA, USA chant" after both Bhavsar (15.575) and Jonathan Horton (15.625) knocked out solid parallel bar routines. When Justin Spring finished off the set for the U.S. with a 15.850 the U.S. actually led the competition though it wouldn't last. China took the lead after vault.

Those "USA" cheers got even louder when Joey Hagerty, Horton and Justin Spring flew through the high bar without a fall. Both Horton and Spring, who do high-risk moves, had taken big falls during Olympic qualifying competitions but when Spring held his landing the men jumped into each others' arms. Assistant coach Miles Avery swung Spring around.

Jonathan Horton High Bar Routine 2008 Olympics (video coming soon!)

Posted at August 12, 2008 1:45 AM