Team USA men’s gymnastics team has a chance on Monday to do what they’ve only done once before — win gold. It’s been 32 years since the American men have stood high on the podium at the Olympic games in Los Angeles in 1984, but the team of Sam Mikulak, Jake Dalton, Danell Leyva, Alex Naddour and Chris Brooks can break that streak in Rio.
In 1984, the men's team was comprised of Tim Daggett, Bart Connor, Mitch Gaylord, James Hartung, Scott Johnson and Peter Vidmar. It wasn't favored to win — that expectation went to the Chinese after the USSR dropped out — but the U.S. led by 1.05 points after the first day of competition and held on to win by 0.60. That team was later inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2006.
Vidmar had himself quite a games, as well. He scored a perfect 10 on the pommel horse to win gold in individual competition on the event, and became the first U.S. man to win a medal in gymnastics all-around competition by collecting a silver.
This year, the Americans will enter the final with the second-best all-around score from the qualifier with 270.405 points — just .056 points behind the Chinese. That score will wipe clean as teams compete in the final. They’ll also compete against Russia, Japan, Great Britain, Brazil, Ukraine and Germany, who finished in that order in the preliminaries.
For the U.S. to win, they’ll have to tighten up on pommel horse, the event that plagued them in the 2012 Olympics in London and continued to haunt them in the preliminaries. Four years ago they placed a distant seventh of eight teams in the event final, crushing their chances at a medal. They placed fifth. On Saturday they finished in eighth place of a 12-team competition, where they forfeited nearly two full points to the Chinese.
But there was plenty of good to come out of the qualifier, as well, as the Americans won both the floor and horizontal bar events. Mikulak and Dalton — who both have experience from competing in London — finished one-two in their floor exercises. Mikulak also qualified for the individual all-around competition. Leyva, the all-around bronze medalist from London who came into Rio as an alternate, placed fourth on horizontal bars.
It’ll take a repeat performance and then some to beat the back-to-back reigning gold medalist Team China, but at the very least Team USA should return to the podium for the first time since their bronze finish in 2008.
The men's competition will be held at 3 p.m. and you can stream it live here via NBC.