Jake Dalton competes in the vault. (Andrew Gombert / EPA )
LONDON — If the U.S. was to make any sort of comeback to medal contention, it would have to start on the vault in its fourth rotation, and John Orozco got the team off to a bad start by sitting down his handspring front double twisting vault and scored only a 14.600.
The negative vibes for the U.S. continued for Sam Mikulak, who followed Orozco by stepping out of bounds on his landing. His score of 15.966 was OK, but most of the top teams were posting vaults above 16.
Jake Dalton, the final vaulter for the U.S., did get a 16.066 despite with a foot out of bounds.
But even with the scores posted from what is traditionally the highest-scoring event, the U.S. was still in sixth place. Hopes had been high that this team would surpass the team bronze medal it won at the 2008 Olympics and the 2011 world championships, but with only two rotations left it seems unlikely the U.S. would receive even a bronze.
Meanwhile, the Japanese men were dazzling reaching for the ceiling on horizontal bar, and the home team from Great Britain was in third place after four rotations, making the crowd at the North Greenwich Arena roar.
But it was the Chinese, who had qualified in only sixth position, who were leading by about two points over second-place Japan. And the U.S. could only take a little step up to sixth place, still well behind a medal spot.
U.S. men's gymastics in eighth place after rings
U.S. men's gymnastics in fifth place after first rotation
U.S. men's gymnastics team in seventh place after pommel horse