World parallel bars champion Danell Leyva and U.S. all-around champion John Orozco led the overall standings after the first day of men’s competition at the U.S. Olympic trials on Thursday at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
Fifteen gymnasts are vying for five spots up for grabs at the London Games and Leyva, Orozco, Sam Mikulak, Jonathan Horton and Jake Dalton occupied the top five places by the end of a riveting afternoon of spinning and tumbling.
Cuba-born Leyva, watched closely by his flamboyant stepfather and coach Yin Alvarez, produced flair and power on the high bar to earn 15.850 in his final event of the day and take control with an overall score of 276.500.
Orozco, who edged out defending champion Leyva to claim the U.S. all-around crown in St. Louis earlier this month, was awarded 15.650 for a rock-solid closing display on the high bar to lie second on 275.550.
Mikulak, who led the overall standings after the third event of the afternoon, was third on 274.650 ahead of Horton (271.350) and Dalton (269.550).
The top two men, based on combined scores from the U.S. nationals and Olympic trials, will earn automatic Olympic selection after the second day of competition on Saturday if they also finish in the top three in at least three events.
Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz won the women’s 200-meter individual medley in 2 minutes, 10.22 seconds at the U.S. swimming trials to earn her second swim in the London Olympics. Leverenz previously earned a trip to London after finishing runner-up in the 400 IM.
Ariana Kukors, the world-record holder, flashed home over the last length in the 200 IM to grab the second spot ahead of incoming Cal freshman Elizabeth Pelton.
Allison Schmitt, who is rapidly emerging as a star in her own right, clinched her second individual swim in the English capital when she won the women’s 200 freestyle final ahead of teenage sensation Missy Franklin.
On the men’s side, Michael Phelps booked himself into another Olympic event when he won the 200 butterfly final. The greatest Olympian of all-time remained on course to emulate his incredible eight-gold haul from Beijing four years ago with another powerful display in America’s Midwest.
Showing no sign of fatigue or weariness despite his grueling schedule, the 26-year-old powered away from his rivals over the final two laps to win in one minute 1:53.65, more than two seconds outside his world record but still the fastest time in the world this year.
“It’s not a good enough time to win a gold medal, but I think I’m OK with it,” Phelps said.
TRACK AND FIELD
Former collegiate champion Galen Rupp ran down favorite Bernard Lagat to win a spine-tingling 5,000-meter run.
Rupp, already the trials’ 10,000 winner, surged past former world champion Lagat in the closing five meters for the upset victory.
Other winners on the cool day included U.S. record holder Brad Walker with a clearance of 18 feet, 7¼ inches in the pole vault and Lance Brooks who threw 213-9 in the men’s discus.