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USA Men Win Pommel Horse! This was psychologically a HUGE boost for this team, not only scoring within one point of Japan’s soon-to-be-world team in the final rankings, but outclassing the entire field on its longtime nemesis, the pommel horse.  Alex Naddour and comeback junior sensation John Orozco posted huge 15+ scores, and Danell Leyva posted one of his best ever international scores on the event with a strong 14.4.  Naddour’s chances for the world team just skyrocketed, and Orozco will now have to be highly considered as well.  Huge, huge performance for the American men.

 

Uchimura Getting Better and Better. This winning thing is becoming more and more like child’s play to this rock star.  After winning everything in sight over the last two years, this may have been his best all-around performance ever.  See my prior blog for thoughts on his epic high bar routine.  I don’t foresee anyone even challenging him at the worlds in Tokyo this fall, and as long as he stays healthy, the same will likely be true in London next year.  He’s currently battling the past all-time greats for his place in the history books much more than he’s battling current gymnastics stars.

 

Kohei Uchimura P-Bars 2011 Japan Cup All-Around

 

 

Danell Leyva Finally Nails Floor. Though Leyva has certainly emerged as a world all-around contender in the last year, he has consistently failed to score well on floor in major competition, often scoring in the high-13’s to low-14’s for hit routines.  His 14.95 for a much cleaner floor routine in the all-around at this meet was the best I’ve seen him score on this event, and a huge step for him as an all-arounder.  His 14.4 on pommel horse in the team competition should also be a huge confidence booster heading into this summer’s nationals, where he’ll have a legitimate shot at winning his first ever national all-around title.

 

Danell Leyva Floor 2011 Japan Cup All-Around

 

 

Horton Not At His Best. Low scores on pommel horse and high bar, as well as some mediocre scores on several other events kept Horton well out of the all-around race this weekend.  Though his performances have been quite unpredictable in international competition over the last two years, the one competition that has been consistent is the national championships, which he has won the last two years in a row.  I’d expect him to be right up there in contention to defend his title again next month, though Danell Leyva’s recent performances may in fact make him the all-around favorite.

 

Keatings Makes Solid Return. Though he certainly wasn’t the star of this competition, Great Britain’s comeback kid did compete on all six events and landed in 8th in the all-around.  He did have some major errors (13.85 on his best event, pommel horse, and 13.75 on p-bars after missing a peach-half), but he’s on track to return to the world championships with his British teammates this fall.  The British men finished several points behind the Americanas at this meet, but with a few more months I’d expect Keatings him to help lift the British men back into possible medal contention at worlds .  Even without him they were 4th in prelims at the worlds last year before dropping to 7th in the finals.

 

Daniel Keatings P-Bars 2011 Japan Cup All-Around

 

 

Super cool peach to one bar handstand!