Gymnastics is one of the most popular sports at the Summer Olympics and Americans have numerous reasons to watch all of the events in 2012.
Men's and women's gymnastics will give us drama, interesting rivalries and introduce some amazing home-grown athletes on an international stage such as: Danell Leyva, John Orozco and Jordyn Weiber.
In 2008, Team USA's men's gymnastics came in second place in multiple events, including overall competition, to the Chinese who are favorites once again in 2012. The women's gymnastics team came in second in overall competition to the Chinese and have not won Olympic gold in overall competition since 1996.
The gymnastics competition will take place beginning on July 28th ending with the final gold medals being handed out on August 7th. In order to make sense of all the events and ensuing madness, here is a ranking of USA's top gymnastics events.
It all begins with Danell Leyva for men's gymnastics. Leyva, a Cuban born defector, will be carrying the hopes of dreams for Team USA in the parallel bars. Leya won the 2011 World Championships in parallel bars and is quite the charismatic, confident and composed athlete the U.S. will need to capture gold.
Another man who could shock the world is 19-year-old John Orozco. Orozco is in the running for medals on vaults and rings and could sneak his way into a top-three finish for overall competition. Not only will the youngest athlete, Orozco, shine, but America's oldest gymnast will put on quite the show in London.
At 26 years old, Jonathan Horton is plenty experienced and has the belief he can dethrone 2011 World Champion, and arguably best gymnast in the world, Kōhei Uchimura. Horton excels at the rings and will play a big part in team competition.
As for the events: floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, horizontal bars, team, individual all-around.
Team USA will struggle in the all-around competitions because of the strength of Uchimura. As for the team competition, China features two of the top ten gymnasts in the world in Zou Kai and Chen Yibing. Plus, they return most of their roster from the 2008 Beijing Olympics that took home gold in the overall competition.
Horton gives the U.S. a tremendous chance in the rings and Leya should win the horizontal bars. But do not forget Jake Dilton, another strong American who figures to do quite well in the floor and vaulting competitions.
The final Men's olympian Sam Mikulak should play a vital role in the pommel horse and should medal in the 2012 Games. The 20-year-old will look to strike gold in his first Olympic Games.
Team USA women have one of the strongest groups in decades that looks ready to win their first overall gold medal since 1996.
Two 17-year-olds highlight this amazing class of Woman in 2012, Gabrielle Douglas and Jordyn Weiber. Both will be in the running for individual gold medals and will most likely compete in every event.
Douglas, a Virginia native, was the 2012 U.S. uneven bars champion and won all-around silver medalist honors. Weiber won the all-around gold medal in U.S. qualifying and is the favorite to take home individual gold in London.
As for the events: individual all-around, vault, uneven bars, beam, team, floor and balance beam.
Douglas and Weiber will headline the competition for Team USA but do not underestimate the remaining gymnasts: Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney.
Raisman excels in the Beam competition and in large part, qualified for the Olympics because of this dominance. Raisman will also finish strong in the Floor competition giving the Americans a solid gymnast that is versatile.
Maroney is the U.S. vault specialist, who posted an astounding 31.7 in the 2011 World Championships. Luckily for the U.S., vault is the nation's strongest event and will most certainly end with Maroney winning gold.
Ross is very valuable for uneven bars, a competition where the Americans are not as strong. Ross is only eligible for London by two months, which makes her run in the 2012 Olympics only a sign to come for great results in the future.
Overall, the U.S. women have strong competitors at every event and hold two of the greatest gymnast in the sport as this moment, in Douglas and Weiber. That combination should allow the women to take home gold and break the 16-year all-around team drought.
Regardless of what events you watch, Team USA will have some of the best gymnast in the world that are hungry to compete and win gold in London. Outside of the men's individual all-around, expect Team USA to have a tremendous chance of bringing home numerous gold medals in the 2012 Games.
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