In the artistic gymnastics men’s team competition at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the United States was able to earn a bronze medal through superior achievement by Jonathan Horton, solid performance by Raj Bhavsar and a nerve-wracking clutch routine by Alexander Artemev.
Among other things, Jonathan Horton‘s high bar routine was stunning and his triple twisting double layout dismount was absolutely breathtaking. After doing his twists while hurdling towards the ground, Horton manged to stick his landing as if the floor was a super-magnet and his feet were made of iron. The mat and Horton’s feet locked and his 5’1″ body wasn’t going anywhere except to an erect display of triumph.
Raj Bhavsar did everything he needed to do to show that he had always deserved to be representing America, delivering his usual high quality results. This despite his age and the mind games that USA Gymnastics have played with him in selecting the Olympic team.
Sasha Artemev came through when he needed to, on his specialty apparatus the pommel horse, in the last rotation, as the last American to perform. The American’s medal chances rested on Artemev’s shoulders and it was anything but certain on how well Artemev would do. He had had widely inconsistent performances on the horse in 2008, at the national championships and the Olympic trials. Would he be the dazzling gymnast he has shown he can be or would he be the choking goat that cost him teammates a third place finish? Fortunately for all involved, except for the fourth place Germans, Artemev was on top of his game and wowed the crowd. It was enough to ensure the U.S. team would stand on the medals platform.
Alexander Artemev and Jonathan Horton also qualified for the all-around competition and two of the finals for individual apparatus (Artemev on pommel horse and Horton on horizontal bar).
In the all-around, Horton finished 9th out of 24. He was 4/10s of a point away from a silver medal. If he could have gotten even a middle of the road score on his lowest apparatus, the pommel horse, he could have easily gotten second place. Artemev ended up in 12th.
Three days later in the pommel horse final, Artemev finally flung himself off of the apparatus in what may become known as the Artemev Fling, as he does it so often. Fortunately, it occurred on the apparatus final and not during the qualifications or team final. He finished 7th out of 8. While it would have been nice for an American to win a medal, Louis Smith’s bronze was the first individual medal in gymnastics in a 100 years for Great Britain, so he and his country probably needed it more.