10. Germany’s Mishaps. After a bronze in 2007, 4th place in 2008, and gold at this year’s European Championships, Germany will be without national champion Marcel Nguyen (broken fibula) as well as the full efforts of Fabian Hambuechen (inflamed Achilles tendon). Bad for Germany, great for the Americans.
9. Chris Cameron On a Roll. Big Ten and NCAA All-Around Champion, the NCAA team title, his first national team berth, and multiple international assignments this year. World team was the logical next step, and best of all he’s great on pommel horse and very strong on rings.
8. Brandon Wynn the New Kevin Tan. He’s the new beast on the block, and can more than equal the huge rings scores we got from Kevin Tan last quad. He proved at Visa’s that he’s a formidable all-arounder and a fantastic competitor; we could also potentially use him on vault and p-bars.
7. Steven Legendre’s Huge Tricks. Legendre is about to become the first American to ever compete a handspring double front –half out on vault on the world stage – and his phenomenal floor routine is equally thrilling. His spectacular skills will turn a lot of heads towards the Americans…including, hopefully, those of the judges.
6. Young Talent. One world and Olympic veteran (Horton) and two individual world competitors from 2009 (Legendre and Leyva), but this is the first team world championships for five out of the six guys. They’ll be looking to Horton for guidance and inspiration, and it will be exciting to see how they mold together as a team under pressure.
5. Healthy Rivalry. Chris Brooks and Jonathan Horton have been lifelong teammates…first as kids in Houston, Texas, then as college athletes at the University of Oklahoma, and now as grown men for Team USA. We didn’t get the anticipated battle at Visa’s between these two, but Brooks has had time to heal his ankle injury and get pumped for his first ever world championships. Having Horton alongside him as they prepare for this meet will be nothing but healthy motivation for both of them.
4. Danell Leyva More Confident Than Ever. He finally proved at Visa’s he could put together a world class all-around, and his p-bars and high bar can compete with just about anyone in the world. And let’s face it…the positive energy his stepfather brings will be really fun to watch in the world team finals.
3. Jonathan Horton Has a Team Again. After competing on one of the most successful NCAA teams in history and then demonstrating the absolute epitome of leadership at the 2008 Olympics, Horton looked a bit lost at the individual world championships last year. This will be the first big team event since Beijing, and I expect we’ll see the old Horton again.
2. Big High Bar. With Olympic high bar silver medalist Horton, world high bar finalist Leyva, and the equally talented Brooks all on one team, high bar could be a huge reason we land on the podium – just as it was in Beijing.
1. Time To Become a Team. Picking the team two months ahead of time was a smart move. Guys who needed rest and healing (like Chris Brooks) have had time to do so. They’ve had time to mentally and physically attend to the specific needs of the team (like pommel horse). Best of all, they’ve had time to bond and train together – no longer as competitors, but as one, unified team preparing to take on the world.