Olympics: Men's gymnastics' must-see routines
Ask Tim Daggett, who’s calling his sixth Olympics for NBC, for his favorite men’s gymnastics memory, and even before he mentions himself clinching the gold medal for the U.S. team in 1984 with a perfect 10 on high bar, he talks about Trent Dimas’ high bar gold from 1992. “He was very good on high bar, but the U.S.A. at that point in time didn’t win medals, never mind gold medals. The gymnast before Trent went, there was a score discrepancy, and Trent’s waiting to go — he’s literally up on the podium chalking up and pacing — and this conference went on for absolute ever. Every five seconds, the anxiety and tension of waiting for them to tell you to go gets worse and worse. And his was minutes. Finally, he gets the greenlight to go, and when that greenlight goes on, you’ve got 30 seconds to mount the high bar. A lot of times, that in itself really rattles gymnasts. But he does the routine of his lifetime and sticks. It was unbelievable.”
With the men’s competition getting underway Saturday (check NBCOlympics.com for the live stream schedule, and watch NBC’s primetime coverage that night), we asked Daggett to pick routines you don’t want to miss in London. And after you’ve checked out the most promising men’s events, click over for his picks of 10 women’s gymnastics routines you don’t want to miss.
U.S. athlete: Danell Leyva. It is a wild ride from start to finish. A lot of times when the guys are on high bar, I’m actually standing because I’m so excited.
World athletes: Zou Kai from China and Epke Zonderland from the Netherlands. I’ve got to pick two. Zou Kai won the gold in 2008. I think Zou Kai will inevitably win because his difficulty value is so high, but at the end of the meet, if people are watching and Epke Zonderland is on high bar, they’re gonna be talking about him saying, “Can you believe what that guy just did?” His routine is dangerous. It’s on the edge. He’s capable of doing a sequence of three huge releases in a row that before he did it, nobody even thought about doing it because if they had mentioned it to somebody, that person would have said, “That’s dumb. You’ll kill yourself.”
NEXT: Floor Exercise
U.S. athlete: Jake Dalton. It’s difficult, and it’s error free.
World athlete: Kohei Uchimura from Japan. He’s the World Champion, and it just displays how he is significantly more elegant and perfect than everyone else.
U.S. athlete, Sam Mikulak: The reason it’s so important is he made the Olympic team but didn’t compete on the final day of the trials because he’d sprained his ankle on that event, which he’s very good at. Of all the gymnastics he’s going to do, landing that one vault is the most challenging on that ankle. He could injure himself again.
World athlete: Yang Hak Seon from Korea. He does a vault that he invented and no one else in the world is capable of. He’ll flip his body two times in a complete straight or stretched position and somehow be able to do three complete twists and land on his feet.
NEXT: Pommel Horse
U.S. athlete: John Orozco. The reason I choose this event for him is that he’s gonna be the anchor for the U.S. team, and a lot of the top all-around gymnasts struggle a bit on horse, and John can be fabulous.
World athlete: Louis Smith from Great Britain. He’s very popular in Great Britain. He won their first Olympic medal in eons in 2008.
NEXT: Still Rings
U.S. athlete: Jonathan Horton. He’s so physically powerful.
World athlete: Chen Yibing from China. He’s won everything, and he won the 2008 gold on rings as well.
NEXT: Parallel Bars
U.S. athlete: Danell Leyva. He’s the reigning World Champion on the parallel bars. He’s really one of just a couple of guys in the world who can bring in a huge score without doing the big release skills. So he’s more of a classical parallel bars worker.
World athlete: Feng Zhe from China. That routine is really gonna be exciting because Danell Leyva won the World title in 2011, and really, everyone thought that Feng Zhe would win. He was a former World Champion, and I’m positive he is looking for a little revenge.