Describing the United States men's gymnastics team as plucky underdogs would be a fair statement. For much of its Olympic history, the U.S. men's team has operated in the shadows as men's teams from Japan and China have taken center stage. Still, the U.S. has had more than a few glorious Olympic moments in men's gymnastics in recent decades.
These 10 U.S. men's gymnasts deserve special mention for their all-time contributions to the sport:
1. Paul Hamm
No individual male gymnast has matched what Hamm accomplished at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He made history by becoming the first male U.S. gymnast to win a gold medal in the individual all-around event. Hamm did it in the most dramatic fashion possible. A bad fall on the vault dropped him to 12th place heading into the final two events. Hamm rallied by scoring 9.837 on the parallel bars and high bar to win the gold medal by just 0.12 points. It represented the closest finish in the all-around event in Olympic history, and Hamm produced one of the most incredible comebacks in sports history.
2. Bart Conner
For Conner and his teammates, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics represented a sweet pinnacle in their careers. He helped lead his team to an upset gold medal victory over defending Olympic champion China. Conner was just getting warmed up. Despite battling a bicep injury, Conner pulled off an incredible routine on the parallel bars and netted a perfect 10 score. It gave Conner a gold medal in the event and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest American gymnasts.
3. Peter Vidmar
Vidmar emerged as another major star in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He made a name for himself by winning gold in the pommel horse and winning silver in the individual all-around competition. He was the first American-born gymnast to win an all-around medal. Vidmar also helped the U.S. team win an Olympic gold medal in men's gymnastics for the first time.
4. Trent DimasDimas forever etched his name in Olympic legend at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He became the first American male gymnast to win a gold medal on foreign soil in 68 years when he won the high bar. Dimas put on a stunning performance in the final, which included a triple back flip dismount, to clinch his victory. It was one of the first steps toward the U.S. becoming more competitive in men's gymnastics.
5. Jonathan Horton
Few people counted on the U.S. men's gymnastics team doing much in the 2008 Beijing Olympics after injuries forced Paul Hamm and Morgan Hamm to withdraw. The Americans exceeded expectations after a strong performance by Horton. Individually, he claimed silver on the high bar. Horton was also the top performer in the team competition and helped boost the U.S. to a surprise bronze finish.
6. Morgan Hamm
He may not enjoy as much media attention as his twin brother, but it was Hamm's consistency in the team final that helped the U.S. claim a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Hamm posted a total score of 38.761 over four events -- the floor, pommel horse, vault and high bar. Only his brother Paul posted a higher total score among his teammates.
7. Mitch Gaylord
Gaylord played a huge role in clinching the team gold medal for the U.S. in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He scored a perfect 10 on the high bar during the final rotation to seal the victory. Gaylord would earn four Olympic medals in Los Angeles -- a silver medal in vault and the bronze in parallel bars and rings.
There might have been no U.S. team gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics without Daggett's incredible performance. Daggett scored a perfect 10 on the high bar, a result that helped his team sprint out to a lead it would not surrender.
9. Frank Kriz
Kriz earned distinction as the first American gymnast to win an Olympic medal on foreign soil when he took home a gold medal in the vault at the 1924 Paris Olympics. For his contributions to the sport, he was one of the initial members selected to the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1959.
10. Peter Kormann
Kormann broke an incredible 44-year drought for the United States during the 1976 Montreal Olympics. No American gymnast had earned a medal in any individual event since 1932. Kormann changed all of that when he claimed bronze on the floor exercise.
John Coon has covered gymnastics as a sports reporter for many publications and wire services. He and his girlfriend have also been past season ticket holders for University of Utah gymnastics meets.
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