After injuries to Paul and Morgan Hamm, the only gymnasts with Olympic experience, the experts said that the U.S.A. could maybe hope for a medal. They barely made it through the qualification round, sneaking in on the strength of Alexander Artemev's pommel horse routine. Tonight, they won bronze because the team -- the inexperienced team -- turned in a consistent performance with few mistakes.
China, easily one of the most talented gymnastics team this decade, won gold with breathtaking routines, including a vault by Li Xiaopeng which earned the highest score of the competition. The Japanese team, expected to challenge China for the gold, looked lackadaisical early on, and had to scratch back into second after strong rotations by the U.S.
The excitement felt by the U.S. gymnasts was palpable through the television screen. Though their routines were not as difficult or as flashy as their Chinese and Japanese counterparts, the U.S. hit their routines. Jonathan Horton was especially strong, bringing in at least a 15.5 in each of his performances. The win was not without drama, as America's weakest event, the pommel horse, was their final rotation. Kevin Tann fell and Raj Bhavsar made a mistake on his dismount, so the team again turned to Artemev. He delivered a 15.35 to clinch the bronze. When the team realized that they won, they jumped around, congratulated each other and made plans to celebrate later. Now that's a party I wish I was invited to!
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