USA’s John Orozco on the top of the qualification round

John Orozco (the teenager from the Bronx) helped lead the U.S. gymnastics team to the top of the rankings in a qualification round.
It was an impressive afternoon for the men, as Orozco and Danell Leyva also became two of four Americans to advance to the individual event finals. The U.S. posted a team total of 274,342, putting it ahead of Russia (272,595) and Great Britain (272,420), respectively.
Scores from the qualifying round do not carry forward to the finals, but are a strong indication of what may happen next.
Leyva and Orozco stood one-two in the standings.

USA's John Orozco on the top of the qualification round
John Orozco.

John Orozco performed like a savvy veteran in his Olympic debut Saturday, moving through his routines with composure and poise on the first day of the men’s team gymnastics competition.
A resident at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs who grew up in the Bronx, Orozco is young for a male gymnast at 19.
But he stands fourth in the all-around standings after the qualifying rounds, and the U.S men are in first place in the team standings.
Teammate Danell Leyva is in first place. The men’s team final will be held Monday.
Japan’s Kohei Uchimura (who has not lost since the Beijing Olympics in 2008) shocked gymnastics fans with a shaky performance that left him ninth. But Orozco looked calm and cool on the biggest day of his career.
“Definitely not how I felt, but that’s how I wanted to try to feel” – Orozco said. “I tried to think of it as just another big meet and just do my routines, just get it over with — especially since it’s the first day.”
He may have felt pressure, but it didn’t show. He made mistakes, but all were minor.
“That’s John Orozco. He’s very poised and he handles the pressure just extremely well for such a young athlete” – said U.S. men’s coach Kevin Mazeika.
“He just goes out there and he does his gymnastics. He’s very focused, very poised, and handled the pressure of the Olympic Games extremely well.”

By the end of the 2012 Summer Olympics, two U.S. men’s gymnasts could go home with all-around medals. Danell Leyva and John Orozco proved that they can compete with the best gymnasts on the biggest world stage.
Leyva’s performance was nothing short of dominant on Saturday. Even in his weakest events, the still rings and vault, he performed well enough to secure his all-around first place.
Orozco finished fourth, but it would have been higher if not for a miss on the parallel bars that caused him to receive just a 14,533. Both he and Leyva scored 15 or better on four of six events.
On a day in which most competitors succumbed to nerves, the top American duo held theirs better than anybody, including defending world champion Kohei Uchimura, who finished ninth. His talent wasn’t enough to overcome his poor mental game on Day 1, leaving the door open for Leyva and Orozco.
“We’re here to get something” – Leyva said after the competition (via Sports Illustrated). “We said we’d be pretty disappointed if we didn’t get on that podium.”
While he was talking about the team, that attitude extends to the individuals on the team, all of whom qualified for at least one individual final.
The team recovered from a slow start with its confidence and swagger, on full display through the athletes’ body language.
The lack of pressure on the Americans helped them. All eyes were on Uchimura in the individual competition and reigning Olympic and World champion China as a team.
The U.S. men have also taken a backseat to the American women. With Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas getting more attention from fans and media than any other individuals. In a sport where the tenths matter and inches are the difference between gold and obscurity, handling pressure is important.
Leyva and Orozco were feeling good on Saturday, but now that they qualified in the top four and their team is Number 1, the pressure will increase. If they can handle it, the result will be golden.

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