US men’s gymnastics team wins bronze medal at world championships

ANTWERP, Belgium — For nearly a decade, the U.S. men’s gymnastics team left global competitions with a familiar feeling of disappointment after failing to finish on the medal podium.

But at the World Championships on Tuesday they recovered from early difficulties and took advantage of Great Britain’s mistakes in the final rounds to secure a bronze medal. The U.S. men had not won a team medal at the World Championships or Olympics since their World Championship bronze in 2014. Here at the Sportpaleis, under pressure, they delivered a score of 252.428, enough to secure a place on the podium for champions Japan (255.594) and runners-up China (253.794), perennial favorites in men’s gymnastics.

The U.S. gymnasts had stumbled through their bar rotation, putting their medal hopes in jeopardy. But before the final rotation, the Americans improved from fourth to second after Great Britain fell on the high bar. China, which finished third, was expected to finish with wrestling, one of its strengths. Most critically, the United States had a three-point lead over Great Britain, the other team competing for a medal.

The US men had to complete their weakest discipline on the high bar. The three gymnasts who had to maintain their composure in the final moments of the competition – Khoi Young, Paul Juda and Fred Richard – were competing at the world championships for the first time.

Young and Richard fell off the machine during qualifying three days ago. This time, Young was the first competitor to do it, and Judah followed with a strong set. As Richard prepared to finish the competition for the United States, Britain’s Harry Hepworth fell on a diving pass. All Richard had to do was avoid a disastrous performance to take bronze, and he gave the Americans what they needed. Richard called out to the crowd, then the team waited for the final performances to end so the celebration could officially begin.

The United States finished well behind Japan and China, but the goal has long been to return to the medal stand.

After the world qualification, Simone Biles was in the lead, Shilese Jones in second place

With two competitions remaining, the U.S. men weren’t in a good position to do so – they were about a point behind the top three teams, who were less than two-tenths apart. Then James Hall of Great Britain couldn’t maintain the high bar due to a deduction – a one-point deduction – and the Americans suddenly had a chance. Since Great Britain received a low score on this apparatus, the Americans, led by Yul Moldauer in the anchor position, performed all three exercises on the parallel bars.

The U.S. team that finally made the breakthrough relied on four gymnasts still in college and the 27-year-old Moldovan, who is competing at the world championships for the fifth time. Moldovan won bronze on floor at the 2017 World Championships, but has since been part of three teams that fell short in the team competition.

During their eight-year medal drought, the Americans sometimes made mistakes under pressure, but often the difficult routines of the world’s best put the Americans at a disadvantage from the start. China, Japan and Russia are usually the favorites. With the Russians still under lockdown in Ukraine for invading their country, an opportunity arose.

The Americans missed that chance at last year’s World Cup. They struggled in the final and slipped to fifth place, their usual landing spot. Great Britain took advantage and took bronze.

This year, Japan and China had similar levels of difficulty with some room for error. But the United States and Great Britain were just below and ahead of the rest of the field. China, the 2022 world champions, put in a disastrous performance in the qualifying round, finishing eighth and barely progressing. However, the results from this part of the competition do not carry over to the final, so the Chinese men returned to form on Tuesday and took silver.

The US team struggled in its second rotation. Richard scored a 12.500 on the pommel horse, with his difficulty level almost a point lower than the qualifying round. The U.S. Staff filed an investigation, meaning they disagreed with how he was credited with the elements in his exercise, but his score did not change. And then Young, who had the second-best pommel horse score in the field in qualifying, fell off the apparatus and scored a 13.600, well above the 15.066 he scored on Saturday.

Simone Biles’ coach attaches great importance to safety on her jump. It hurts their score.

Great Britain also had to reckon with a fall on the pommel, which prevented the USA from slipping out of the race. But even after a strong vault rotation capped by Asher Hong’s massive score of 15.100, the U.S. men were in fourth place and had to rely on late errors from the Brits to move forward.

The Americans were allowed to celebrate that medal at that moment, but their achievement also matters for the sport – as men’s gymnastics is far less popular in this country than women’s gymnastics as it struggles to survive at the NCAA level, where almost all members the US team is developing. Medals at World Championships and Olympic Games can make a difference.

And this group is promising. Many are young and the new generation has impressed. Since Russia cannot qualify as a team for next year’s Paris Olympics, there is still a chance of winning a medal. And the 2028 Olympics will be held in Los Angeles — just as these outstanding college-age athletes reach the age at which many male gymnasts peak.

And now, as they move toward more ambitious goals, they have finally ended their medal drought – and have been able to leave a team competition celebrating success rather than struggling with disappointment. US men’s gymnastics team wins bronze medal at world championships

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