Sam Mikulak competes on the floor exercise. (Thomas Coex / AFP/Getty…)
LONDON -- The U.S. men gymnasts began the team competition with the floor exercise, the apparatus they ranked first on in team qualifications (they were also first in horizontal bar, which is the last rotation Monday for the Americans).
In this team finals format, in which only three of the five men per team compete and all three scores count, Danell Leyva of Homestead, Fla., was up first with Sam Mikulak, the 19-year-old from Newport Coast second and Jacob Dalton of Reno, Nev., in the final spot.
The favored Japanese were first on the rings, where three-time defending world all-around Kohei Uchimura led off with Yusuke Tanaka second and Koji Yamamuro third. Defending gold medalist China also began on rings, coming up after the Japanese and being led by 2008 Olympian Chen Yibing, a four-time world champion on the apparatus and the defending Olympic gold medalist.
Leyva's floor was full of unwavering power. He had a small hop after his final landing. While he was competing, Uchimura earned a 15.133 on the still rings.
Mikulak was red-faced with effort, and he had to put his hand down on his final move, a triple full. He scored a 14.600 and received an eight-tenth deduction for that final error. Other than a small hop on his landing, Dalton was well-done on his floor, scoring 15.466.
On competition day, the U.S. scored 46.165 on floor exercise and earned only 45.266 Monday. That's not the trend the U.S. men want to see continue. Japan, which started first on still rings, for example, had 45.699 on still rings Monday, up from the 45.099 it had earned in qualifying.
At the end of the first rotation, the U.S. was fifth overall, a slow start. Ukraine led with 48.065 points, and Great Britain was second with 45.932. Japan and Russia were also ahead of the U.S. The standings are a bit deceiving because the vault is normally the highest-scoring event, so it's unlikely Ukraine will hold that advantage.
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