Jonathan Horton was so pleased that the U.S. men's gymnastics team finished the qualifying round with the high score that he couldn't help but ask:
"Can we just get the medals now?"
Uh, no. It doesn't work that way.
Though only three times since the current scoring system was implemented in 1997 has the team that led after the first day not gone on to win the team title at the Olympics or world championships, Saturday's results will be a distant memory when Monday's finals begin.
"Being just the first day, it wasn't really important to be on point, so as far as I'm concerned, anything that happened Saturday doesn't really matter," 19-year-old New Yorker John Orozco said. "We still have a lot to improve on. The qualifying wasn't the time to be our best. That time comes (today)."
That's the standard theme for the U.S. squad, whose members relieved tension Sunday by playing Nerf basketball in their apartment in the Olympic Village.
"It's only Step 1," Horton said. "It's a very good spot to be in, because we'll be the first group to go on floor and the last group to go on high bar at the end of the meet, so it'll make everything exciting."
Horton will be part of an exciting finish, as he joins Orozco and Danell Leyva on the horizontal bar, the U.S.'s final event.
Horton, a veteran of two Olympics, also will compete on the rings, an event in which he posted the team's highest score in qualifying. Orozco is entered in five of the six disciplines, more than any of his teammates.
"We still have a lot to improve on; at least I know I do," Orozco said. "For it being so many of our first time, I think we did pretty good, but we have to do better in the finals."
Head coach Kevin Mazeika said he hopes to see continued improvement.
"That is our plan, just keep getting better as the Olympics progress," he said. "We were better in prelims than in podiums, and we hope to be better in team finals."
China is expected to contend for the gold. Russia and Great Britain qualified second and third, respectively.
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