CHINA:

These guys were phenomenal in their quest to win Gold.  They pulled ahead of the field and showed how dominant they truly are.  It was great to see them hit when it counted, to erase the demons of Athens and end up on top.

It’s hard to choose a favorite routine from among them but my top picks would be…

  • Chen Yibing on rings.  His strength was unreal but what took my breath away was his dismount.  Full-twisting double layout, which he opened up and flaired before landing with ease.   It was gorgeous.
  • Huang Xu on parallel bars.  Clean, precise and a perfect landing.  Like Tim says, it was “gymnastics 101.”

The one thing that hampered my excitement a tad was hearing the comment of head coach Huang Yubin made before the Games began.  Al Trautwig reported that Yubin claimed he would “jump off the tallest building in Beijing if his team didn’t win the gold.”    Perhaps this was taken out of context or has been exagerated in some way but if there is any truth to it at all, it sickens me.    There is so much more to be said (about coaching, cultural expectations, perspective) but I’ll leave it for another post.  For now, let’s let the Chinese men glory in their incredible accomplishment.

JAPAN:

Hmmm.  It’s hard to know how to comment on their performance since I saw very little of it.  I think NBC aired one vault, a couple Parallel Bars routines and two routines on High Bar at most.   So I mostly know what I heard from the commentators.  Although I’ll admit that the Vault I saw was pretty lackluster, Parallel Bars & High Bar both looked good.  Perhaps the Japanese were not on their game last night but they must have done something right to nab the silver medal.   They certainly didn’t put any pressure on China but they still held their own.

USA:

Wow! What a night!  This was the kind of performance I was hoping for from the US Men but I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t really believe it would happen for them.   After all the negativity from the press, after all the drama with Hamms’ withdrawls, how could you not want these guys to pull off something big?    What a thrill to watch.  My husband and I were on the edge of our seats for every performance.  It was incredible.   Highlights for me include…

  • Jonathan Horton rocking every set.  The guy was just on fire.  It’s so fun to see someone have a night like that.  I hope he’s got a bit more of that left in him for the All Around final.
  • Justin Spring‘s high bar routine.  Unbelievable!  He flies so high, takes so many risks and he didn’t hold back at all.  And to stick a triple back dismount under that kind of pressure… it was unreal.
  • And of course, Sasha Artemev pulling through when it counted the most.  After two rough routines just before him, the pressure was enormous.  Again, I’m sad to admit that I didn’t have much hope for him to hit that routine.  I just thought it would be too much for him.  I’m so glad I was wrong.   What a night for him.  Well done.
  • David Durante up in the stands.  He seemed to have lived absolutely every moment with the team.  He deserves a medal with the rest of them.  He’s what an alternate should be.

So what about you?  What did you enjoy from the competition?  What were your thoughts?

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