China Edges U.S. in Men's Qualifications, Russia Third
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The men's qualifications concluded Saturday evening with China leading the team standings by 0.056 over the U.S. The remaining countries to qualify to Monday's team final were, in order, Russia, Japan, Great Britain, Brazil, Ukraine and Germany. (Germany and Ukraine placed first and second, respectively, at the test event in April.) Placing ninth through 12th: Switzerland, Netherlands, Korea and France.

Falls were plentiful throughout the day, but not as costly as they will be in the team final. The 4-up-3-count still includes the safety net of the throwaway score. The individual all-around standings also look a bit different from years past. Japan's Kohei Uchimura (90.498) missed his piked Kovacs on high bar, but even if he caught it he might still be looking up at leader Oleg Vernyayev of Ukraine (91.964), whose 16.166 on parallel bars was the highest score of the day. Russia's stylish David Belyavsky sits in third with 89.799. Has someone finally surpassed Uchimura? Not yet.

Qualifications can often be deceiving in predicting the medalists. They are a statistical mirage. Just ask the U.S. men, who blew away the field in 2012 and ended up a befuddled fifth in the medal round. Of the contenders, Japan probably had the worst meet in terms of falls, with China a close second. The U.S. was the most consistent, counting only one fall, on pommels.

1) China: 270.461

China won both rings and parallel bars, with Liu Yang's beautiful inverted crosses and event-leading 15.900 a meet highlight. China's 47.233 on p-bars was the only event total to exceed 47 points, and was fueled by Deng Shudi's 15.800, You Hao's 15.733 and Lin Chaopan's 15.700. As good as China was on those two events, they ranked seventh on floor and ninth on high bar. Liu sat down his floor mount and Lin fell on both his mount and dismount. On high bar, Zheng Chenglong missed his Kolman after catching a huge Cassina.

2) United States: 270.405

In the first rotation, the U.S. hit all four vaults to post a 45.333. Then the team found its groove on parallel bars, earning a team-best 46.275 and led by Danell Leyva's 15.60. Sam Mikulak led off with a 15.375 and Chris Brooks added a 15.300. Leyva and Mikulak went 1-2 on high bar, as well, scoring 15.333 and 15.133, respectively. Brooks struggled after a cross-grip Tkatchev and had to muscle the giant afterward, but still scored 14.766. The squad was clean on floor (46.100) anchored by Mikulak (15.800) and Dalton (15.600), both of whom stuck their triple twist dismounts. They also ranked first and second in the floor standings. That's where the momentum came to a screeching halt, however. After Leyva opened with a clean 14.533 on pommels, Brooks and Mikulak slithered off the beast. Alex Naddour, who can't really be called a pommel horse specialist anymore with his drastic improvement in other events, prevented a total disaster with a stellar 15.366 and 42.999 event total. Rings is the Americans' second-weakest event, with a high of 15.000 from Naddour and a 44.466 total.

3) Russia: 269.612

Coming off their European victory, the Russians looked prepared, ranking second on pommel horse, vault and parallel bars. On the former, David Belyavsky and Nikolai Kuksenkov posted 15.30 and 15.383, respectively, and Denis Ablyazin vaulted an excellent Ri Se Gwang (Kasamatsu-tuck back). Russia's 10th-place ranking on high bar is a concern, however. Nikita Nagornyy, the European champion on floor, suffered a fall on a piked Arabian double, so there's room for improvement there.

4) Japan: 269.294

In his quest for a second Olympic all-around gold and Japan's first team title since Athens 2004, Kohei Uchimura looked focused as ever. Competing in the first of three subdivisions, he led the team on its first event, pommels, with a silky 14.966 and matched Koji Yamamuro's 14.700 on rings, where Yusuke Tanaka led the team with 14.733. Uchimura's 15.533 for his Li Xiaopeng vault was tops for his team and saved the event total after Yamamuro fell on his Lopez. Kenzo Shirai pitched in a 15.466 for his Yurchenko-triple twist. Things got worse for the defending world champions on p-bars, where Tanaka went the wrong way on a peach-half and had to add a glide kip on one bar, and Yamamuro's routine went from bad to worse when he jumped off on purpose (12.733). Ryohei Kato led the team on the event with 15.500 and Uchimura posted a clean 15.466. High bar didn't go much better. Kato led the way again (15.000), but Uchimura peeled off on his piked Kovacs. His 14.300 was thrown out. The six-time world champ made up for it on floor with a 15.533, which seemed a bit high since he did not stick a single landing. Shirai went out of bounds on his tucked triple-double but hit everything else for a measly (for him) 15.333.

5) Great Britain: 268.670

Competing in the second subdivision with the U.S., the Brits had an incredible start on floor (45.799) and pommels (46.233). Max Whitlock was tops on floor with 15.500, and his 15.800 on pommels pipped teammate Louis Smith by 0.10, the same margin Whitlock defeated him in the 2015 world pommel horse final. Those two are currently first and second on that event, so look for a rematch. Nile Wilson led the team on rings (14.941), clearly the team's Achilles' heel, and vault was a total disaster. Brinn Bevan landed his Tsukahara-double pike, but staggered backward to avoid a fall. After Wilson posted 14.700 for a Kasamatsu-1.5, Whitlock fell on his Yurchenko-triple twist and Kristian Thomas landed his Yurchenko-double pike low and touched both hands. Bevan, Whitlock and Wilson all hit p-bars, which meant Smith didn't have to compete a second event. High bar was not kind to Whitlock, who missed a Yamawaki to cross-grip catch. Bevan and Thomas hit, and Wilson anchored with a solid 15.500.

6) Brazil: 268.078

The home crowd will be thrilled to cheer on Brazil, which ranked second on high bar (44.865), fourth on floor, thanks to Diego Hypolito's 15.000, and fifth on vault. Having Sergio Sasaki back certainly helped, and he led the team with 88.898. Arthur Mariano had an excellent meet too (88.465), and Francisco Barretto Junior posted 86.532. Defending Olympic rings champion Arthur Zanetti qualified to that final, but only in fifth.

7) Ukraine: 263.002

Oleg Vernyayev may not get much sleep in the next few days, since he's leading the all-around standings by a healthy margin over Kohei Uchimura, who hasn't lost that phase of competition since placing second in 2008 in Beijing. And it was the protest of Uchimura's pommel horse score in London that bumped Ukraine from ecstatic bronze medalists to a forgettable fourth. Does Ukraine have enough fire power to climb into the medals? One thing is certain in that regard: Vernyayev has to have the meet of his life again, which would be a good rehearsal for the all-around.

8) Germany: 261.518

The Germans were shorthanded when Andreas Toba injured his knee on the first pass of his floor routine. 2012 silver medalist Marcel Nguyen and Andreas Bretschneider qualified to the all-around final, but near the bottom (22 and 24). And Fabian Hambüchen leads the high bar standings with 15.53. Can he finally win Olympic gold on that event? Why not?

NOTES from Christian Ivanov

Subdivision 1

Japan - A lot of mistakes and missed routines!

Uchimura takes the lead after the session with a fall on his piked Kovacs on HB, no final there. Looks good for FX final and possibly PB.

Tanaka three major errors, which will cost him and Japan event finals. (Fall on Sivado on PH, peach Makuts on PB and multiple steps on his high bar dismount).

Shirai OOB on triple double on FX - 15.333, still chance for a final. Played it safe on vault with Yurchenko triple only, but leads qualification on the event.

Yamamuro falls on VT and PB, Kato consistent and second in the AA thus far.

Brazil - outstanding competition for them!

Had only three gymnasts on PB, HB and PH and hit every routine. Almost certain finals for Hypolito on FX, Zanetti on SR, Sasaki VT and Barretto on HB.

Calvo (Colombia) - strong day until his last event where his sat down his Kas 1 ½. Outside chance for a final on PB, HB; standing in 5th in the AA.

Larduet (Cuba) - just like Calvo hit every routine but vault - got lost on his Randi and did a tucked double twist, good effort not to get a zero here, score 11.766, which pushed him to 7th in this rotation, fairly safe for AA final though! Leads PB qualification and stands in third on HB.

Petrounias (Greece) - outstanding on rings - 15.833 top score so far!

Zonderland and Duerloo from the Netherlands - 15.366 and 15.1 on high bar - 1st and 4th in this session (Zonderland did his safer routine without the Gaylord). Van Gelder 15.333 on rings - fourth thus far.

Likhovitskiy (Belarus) leads PH with a 15.266

Shatilov (Israel) fell on his 1 ½ to Randi on FX

Gonzalez (Chile) hit FX 15.066, not good enough for a final, but currently second on VT

Korea looked really off!

Subdivision 2

USA - on fire takes the lead!

Excluding Dalton's second vault (fall on Randi) the U.S. hit every routine on the first four events. First miss for the team was by Brooks on pommels (Sivado). Mikulak also looked very strong in the all-around (only miss on PH - fall on Sivado - 13.1); currently 4th in AA, top FX score 15.8, and possible PB and HB finals 15.375 and 15.133 respectively.

Leyva strong routines on PB and HB, where he is with 2nd and 4th best scores, solid contribution on PH 14.533

Dalton 15.6 on floor for second-best score in the competitions thus far, behind Mikulak. Naddour 15.366 on pommels, 5th at the moment.

GBR - better than in training but still not perfect!

Good competition for Wilson 89.240, 2nd so far, but off day for Whitlock (fall on triple twisting Yurchenko and release on high bar). Despite the off day, Whitlock leads PH qualifications with 15.8 and looks good on FX with a 15.5.

Smith, 15.7 on pommels for 2nd best score. Willson 15.5 on HB 2nd best there also.

Falls on vault by Whitlock, Thomas and multiple steps for Bevan - all 6.0 vaults, and right after the devastating crash of Said!

Germany - Hambuechen in final on HB, top score 15.533, but teammate Bretschneider missed his double-twisting Kovacs. Toba suffered a knee injury after his first pass on FX - front double full to front tuck full (landed normally but immediately grabbed his knee), competed only PH after that.

France - disaster! After scoring 15.533 on rings and almost certainly making the final there Samir Ait Said suffered a devastating injury on vault on his Tsuk double pike (fractured bone). He was attended for a long period of time, and had to be carried out of the arena on a stretcher. On a positive side Tommasone scored 15.65 on pommels and is certain for a final.

Stepko brushed the bar on his Makuts 15.3 - not good enough for PB final - currently 15th in the AA.

Ri Se Gwang (PRK) superb on vault - did his piked Dragulescu and Tsuk full-in with very controlled landings and much better execution - top score of the day!

Merdinyan strong on pommels 15.583 for 4th for now!

Subdivision 3

China - shows improvements on their weakest events PH & HB! Pommels - only three gymnasts in the line up but all hit scoring close to 15.0. Liu on rings deservingly leads with a 15.9, teammate, You also in the final with an impressive 15.8.

Three hit 6.0 vaults!

PB - over the charts with a 15.7 by Lin, 15.733 - You and 15.8 - Deng.

Only problem areas were high bar and floor- best HB guy Zhang missed his Kolman, the others hit though!

Floor two hit and two missed, the only place where they counted a fall.

It will take a special performance to beat them!

Russia - rough start!

Starting on their weakest event Nagornyy missed a Kolman and Kuksenkov a Tak full!

Floor was just as poor as they have two enormous routines, but Nagornyy sat down on his piked double Arabian, while Ablyzin was nervy with lots of steps and hops for only 14.7.

Pass this point the team got going - two finals on pommels - Kuksenkov and Belyavsky, one on rings Ablyzin 15.633, and four impressive vaults for two more finals - Ablyzin and Nagornyy.

Last event Nagornyy missed his peach to one bar, but his teammates hit and Belyavsky posted the second highest of the day - 15.933.

Vernyayev - leads, point and a half ahead of Uchimura (fall on HB), regardless his near 92 mark is impressive! Finals on PH, VT, PB and HB (most of any gymnasts)

Radivilov - finals on rings and VT (stuck his Dragulescu)

Dragulescu - missed his 1½ to Randi (did only a double full which he sat down), then touched down on hid double twisting double tuck dismount. But redeemed himself on vault standing up his Dragulescu which he has been struggling with, then made a very good Li Xiaopeng (Yurchenko half on 2 ½ off) only a small step on the landing!

His teammate Muntean grabbed the last spot for the PB final with a 15.466 - four-way tie for 8th, but he ended up on top of the tie by having the highest execution score, over Uchimura, Nguyen and Fokin.

Zapata hit on FX - but 15.083 was not good enough for final!

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