Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 6/28/12
When you look at the field of men competing for spots on the gymnastics team, one important question remains heading into the trials, which take place Thursday and Saturday. When you look at the scores from the June 7-9 Visa Championships, Danell Leyva won by almost a full point over John Orozco (170.250 combined score vs. 169.350), with Jonathan Horton finishing almost three points behind (167.550) and Sam Mikulak slightly further behind (167.200). After that, it dropped a little bit in scores. Just taking that into account, I think we know who some of the top American men are. After that, it gets interesting. It's up in the air and I just don't know offhand where USA Gymnastics feels the team is lacking. Remember, just like the women's team, the men can only select five athletes with three competing and having their scores count. We know Leyva and Orozco will do all-around so they can compete for the medal, but other than that it's still unknown where the team wants to strengthen itself - it's filling in pieces to a puzzle. This weekend, you'll want to keep an eye on the two top guys - Leyva and Orozco - and see if they are ripe and ready to peak at the London Games so they can vie for an all-around medal. You'll also want to keep tabs on Horton, an Olympic veteran and a world champion medalist, and see if he can peak on his stronger events so that you can use him to try to medal individually in those. Then it gets wide open, with possibly Mikulak and a fifth. While in the past you would expect a specialist to be the one to look at for the final Olympic spots, going down from six to five team members means whoever gets picked outside the all-around competitors will have to step up in multiple events - or more, in case anybody suffers an unexpected injury. For those athletes fighting to prove they deserve one of those available spots, this weekend is it. As we have already seen this week in swimming and track and field events, anything can happen and you could be sitting there on the outside looking in when the team gets named. This weekend is a one-and-done for those gymnasts who are still making their arguments - it's very nerve-racking and there's a lot of pressure on these athletes. But if they go in cool, calm and collected, as my coach always told me to do, and just do the routines that they've been training for years to do, they'll be fine. Pressure is not new to these athletes, but they will feel more jitters this weekend at Olympic trials then they have felt before - even at national championships. The Olympic trials are a new day. Competitors need to look past everything up to this point and just focus on this one weekend. The good thing about trials is that while you always want to do well there, finishing in the top five does not guarantee a person a spot on the Olympic team. The selection committee is still picking the team, so they can make adjustments as necessary. But it will take a a strong performance by somebody not named Leyva, Orozco or Horton to complete the team heading over to London in a few weeks.
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