The United States finished fifth in the men's gymnastics team final after winning the qualification round Saturday. In the team final's unforgiving three-up, three-count format, early mistakes were enough to dig the U.S. into a hole from which it could not emerge.
Pommel horse has always been the American Achilles heel, and it reared its ugly head again on Monday as Danell Leyva and John Orozco fell off the apparatus. But it wasn't the only place the U.S. faltered, as Sam Mikulak put his hands down on a tumbling run in floor exercise, and Orozco fell on vault.
With three rotations left, the Americans headed to the vault. If they were going to get to the podium, this was going to be the apparatus where they could get it done because of the high scores they've posted on the vault in the past.
[ Photos: U.S. men's gymnastics team falters ]
Unfortunately, Orozco sat down on his vault. Though Mikulak and Jake Dalton recovered with strong vaults, the damage was done. Even their hit, high-scoring routines on high bars and parallel bars couldn't get the U.S. in bronze contention.
After Saturday's qualifying round, the U.S. shocked gymnastics fans by beating out powerhouse teams from China and Japan. However, it could not keep the energy going from Saturday. Its routines lacked the energy that's been a hallmark of this team. Orozco's vault was doomed because he didn't get a big enough jump off the board, so his hands landed in the wrong spot on the vault.
China easily won the team final after an uncharacteristically bad performance on Saturday. It's China's second straight team gold in gymnastics. The final two spots came down to Japan, Ukraine and Great Britain's hometown team.
With Prince William and Prince Harry watching, the British won silver with a strong final rotation on the floor exercise. Ukraine snuck ahead of Japan, which had been in second most of the day but struggled on the pommel horse.
UPDATE: Japan filed an inquiry into Kohei Uchimura's pommel horse score. The gymnastics federation accept the inquiry, and awarded Uchimura an extra five-tenths of a point, which moved his team into second place. The Brits won bronze, and Ukraine took fourth.
This is not the end for the U.S. male gymnasts, as Orozco and Leyva will compete in the all-around competition on Wednesday. Every member of the team will also compete in at least one event final, starting on Sunday.
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