U.S. gymnast John Orozco endured successive disasters as the United States slumped to finish fifth in Monday’s men’s team final, two days after raising hopes of gold by qualifying in first place.
Orozco, the fourth best all-round gymnast in Saturday’s qualifying, faltered twice on the pommel horse, briefly sitting down, and then fell on his vault.
He was taken aside by his coach for a pep talk after the pommel, and looked tearful following the vault, but recovered to complete strong routines in the parallel bars and horizontal bar.
It was a disappointing day for the Americans, who found themselves languishing in eighth and last place at the halfway stage of the competition. Though they clawed back three places on the last three rotations, they never looked like capturing the medals, which went to China, Japan and Britain.
“After the vault, for me it was like: ‘That’s two routines I already destroyed.’ I wasn’t feeling great personally,” Orozco told reporters, admitting he “wasn’t exactly confident” as he approached the board.
The 19-year-old from the Bronx scored 12.733 for the horse and 14.600 for the vault, in a sport where an outstanding mark is around 16 or over. With his team mates, he now has two days to pick himself up before the individual finals.
“Right now it’s over, I don’t feel fantastic about it, but all I can do is look forward to the future,” he said.
Reflecting on the worst U.S. men’s team result at the Olympics since coming fifth at Sydney in 2000, trainer Kevin Mazeika told reporters: “It was just one of those days. It’s sport, and that stuff happens.”