Every year there are numerous “wow” moments in the sport of gymnastics- moments that leave a lasting impression for years to come. With the excitement of London, with gymnast pushing their limits to be the best, and with those few “farewell” routines, 2012 was a year that did not disappoint.
Here is a closer look at my personal Top 10 routines that will be remembered for various reasons.
10. Sam Mikulak, Parallel Bars, Visa Championships
A break-out year for this University of Michigan Junior, Sam Mikulak began to raise eyebrows with his Visa Championships performances. His parallel bars routine on Day 2 will not only be remembered for being a routine that proved he was ready for London, but for the equipment issues. Not once, but twice the equipment had to be tightened after not being fully secured, an occurrence rarely, if ever, seen in elite competition.
9. Denis Ablyazin, Floor Exercise, European Gymnastics Championships
With a younger generation taking over, Team Russia was a true medal contender come London with one of the biggest reasons, the powerful Denis Ablyazin. Debuting a floor routine valued at 17.1, the highest of this Quad, Denis may have fallen, but showed he and Team Russia will be forces to reckon with in this next Quad.
8. Jordan Jovtchev, Rings, Olympic Games
Making history when he competed in his sixth Olympics, Jordan Jovtchev amazed gymnastics fans around the world with his still rings routine. Jordan, 39, qualified to the Finals were he finished 7th. This gymnastics legend will be missed on the competition floor, but his legacy will not be forgetting.
7. John Orozco, Floor, Visa Championships
One of the closest battles for the United States National Titles took place during this past summer between John Orozco and Danell Leyva. Coming down to the last routine, John Orozco shocked many, mostly himself, when he took over the lead after doing the floor routine of his life.
6. Marcel Nguyen, Parallel Bars, European Championships
A gymnast that has had a string of 2nd place finishes the past couple of years; Marcel had a golden moment at the European Championships. His parallel bar routine was one of the highlights of the whole competition, especially for his difficult dismount.
5. Louis Smith, Pommel Horse, London Test Event
Dealing with the pressure of having to qualify to the Olympics, as well as doing it in front of a home crowd, Louis Smith and Team GBR showed they were ready to take on the world. Performing one of the best routines of 2012, not only at such an early stage of the season, but the weight of a whole countries pride on his back, this was the kickoff to a memorable year for Team GBR. With his hinting to retirement, this routine may be one he remembered for more than his performance at the Olympics. Without this stunning routine, Team GBR could have potentially missed their opportunity completely.
4. Danell Leyva, High Bar, Olympic All-Around Final
After having an emotional rollercoaster of an Olympics, Danell Leyva rallied back to a bronze medal with his final routine. Rising in the rankings throughout the whole competition, Danell scored the highest high bar school to bring home the only Team MAG USA Medal.
(No great YouTube video could be found for this routine.)
3. Epke Zonderland, High Bar, Olympic Event Finals
One of the most anticipated, if not the most anticipated, event finals of the London Olympics was Men’s High Bar. Always a show of huge difficulty, “The Flying Dutchman” marked his name in the history books with this gold medal performance. After not knowing if he would even represent his country in London, Epke did not disappoint with one of the best routines of the Olympics.
2. Kristian Thomas, Vault, Olympic Team Finals
Leading to the Olympics, many wondered if Team GB would be able to handle the home field pressure. This vault by Kristian Thomas showed not only could he handle the pressure, but Team GB could, as well as show they were a true medal threat. Scoring a huge 16.55, Kristian’s vault will be remembered as one of the highlights for GB Men’s Gymnastics.
1. Kohei Uchimura, Pommel Horse, Olympic Team Finals
The pommel horse dismount of Kohei Uchimura will always be remembered as the biggest controversy of the London Olympics. Still to this day, there are people debating whether Kohei hit a handstand on the dismount. Not the brightest spot of 2012, yet it truly is the most memorable routine of 2012.
(A clear YouTube could not be found, however a small replay of this shocking moment. Sadly, it is only available to US readers.
Article: Brian Taylor
Photo: Marcel Nguyen
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