Preview: Sam Mikulak and U.S. men start on floor in qualifications
Preview: U.S. men start on floor in gymnastics qualifications
NBC Olympics.com – The qualification line-up for the U.S. men's gymnastics team has been released. Four of the five members will compete on each event.
Floor exercise: Alex Naddour, Chris Brooks, Sam Mikulak, Jake Dalton
Pommel horse: Danell Leyva, Brooks, Mikulak, Naddour
Still rings: Brooks, Mikulak, Dalton, Naddour
Vault: Brooks, Naddour, Mikulak, Dalton
Parallel bars: Mikulak, Dalton, Brooks, Leyva
Horizontal bar: Dalton, Mikulak, Brooks, Leyva
They will compete in subdivision 2, which begins at 1:30 p.m. ET and can be streamed live on NBC Olympics. While Team USA is expected to easily qualify for the eight-team final, they hope to show that they're a stronger squad than in 2012. At the London Olympics, the U.S. men finished fifth in the team final after earning the top score in qualifications.
Mikulak, a four-time national all-around champion, and Brooks will compete on all six events in hopes of qualifying to the all-around final. Leyva, who earned all-around bronze in London, was picked by the team coaches to compete on just three events, so he will be ineligible for the Rio all-around final.
Leyva will still hope to qualify individually for the horizontal bar and parallel bars finals, as he's won world championship medals on both events. Naddour will look to advance to the final in his best event, the pommel horse, while Dalton will look to post high scores on his strongest apparatus, floor and vault.
Before the U.S. men compete, the qualification round will begin at 9:30 a.m. ET with subdivision 1. Individual gymnasts from Greece, Cuba, Canada, Israel and more will compete alongside the teams from Japan, Brazil, South Korea and the Netherlands.
Japan's Kohei Uchimura, defending all-around Olympic champion who has also won the all-around title at the last six world championships, will be the star of subdivision 1. Other gymnasts to watch are:
- Cuba's Manrique Larduet, who won all-around silver behind Uchimura at the 2015 Worlds
- Brazil's Arthur Zanetti, the "Lord of the Rings" who won still rings gold in London
- Netherland's Epke Zonderland, the "Flying Dutchman" who earned the horizontal bar title at the 2012 Olympics
In subdivision 2, the teams competing alongside the U.S. men are Great Britain, France and Germany, plus individual gymnasts from North Korea, Azerbaijan, Italy and more. Gymnasts to watch are:
- Great Britain's Louis Smith and Max Whitlock, two of the best pommel horse workers in the world
- Germany's Fabian Hambuechen, who made his Olympic debut at the 2004 Athens Games at age 16
- North Korea's Ri Se Gwang, who performs an incredibly difficult vault that is named after him
Qualifications will wrap up with subdivision 3 at 5:30 p.m. ET. The defending Olympic champions, Team China, will begin their Olympics here along with teams from Ukraine, Switzerland, China and Russia. Individual gymnasts from Uzbekistan, Ireland, Romania, Spain and more will also compete in subdivision 3. Gymnasts to watch are:
- Romania's Marian Dragulescu, who won three medals at the 2004 Olympics and is back at 35 years old hoping for gold
- China's Deng Shudi, who shared the all-around podium with Uchimura and Larduet at the 2015 Worlds
- Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev, who was crushed at the London Games when his team finished third but was bumped to bronze after a controversial score change
The women's qualification session begins on Sunday, Aug. 7 at 8:45 a.m. ET. The U.S. women will compete in subdivision 4 at 4:30 p.m. ET. The line-ups for the U.S. women have set to be announced, but based on podium training it appears that Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman will battle it out for the two spots allotted per country in the all-around final.
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