Monday, July 16, 2012

Olympics Hype: Leyva vs. Nguyen

When it comes to men's gymnastics, most U.S. journalists know three names: Kohei Uchimura, Danell Leyva, and John Orozco. Uchimura is the gymnast who has been dubbed "Superman," and most recently, he has been compared to Nadia. Leyva and Orozco, of course, are the two American gymnasts who could very well win an all-around medal.

I don't blame the U.S. media for promulgating the Uchimura vs. Leyva vs. Orozco rivalry. Who doesn't want to see a spectacular all-around battle? I certainly do. But guess what... There are other gymnasts competing at the Olympics. Shocking, I know. So, I'm going to tell you about some of the other competitors by spinning my own hype.

I can't make any promises that these rivalries will come to a head. Then again, the media can't, either. (Kim Zmeskal and Svetlana Boginskaya in 1992?) What I can say is this: based on current scores, they could be legitimate rivals.

With no further ado, let's take a look at our first pairing: Danell Leyva vs. Marcel Nguyen

Only the cool kids wear grips during photo shoots.

If Tyra Banks had to choose one of these boys, she would probably choose Danell because he is looking fierce in his photo. But in the gymnastics world, the gold medal on parallel bars is Marcel's to lose. Even though Danell is the reigning world champion on parallel bars, Marcel has posted the highest score in 2012. (Marcel: 16.1 vs. Danell 16.0)

Rather than make predictions about who will win, I'm going to give you a preview of both gymnasts. Specifically, I'll tell you what I like and don't like about each of these gymnasts.

First up: Danell Leyva, the 20 year-old Cuban American from Miami who is coached by his stepfather Yin Alvarez. (NBC is going to tell you that over and over and over again. So, get used to it.)

I live for the simple elegance of Danell's routine. (Watch his 16.0 routine here) Unless you are a diehard gymnastics fan, you don't realize that Danell is doing some frickin' hard skills. For instance, he does what is called a Teng Hai Bin, which is a basket--sometimes called a peach--into a full pirouette on one arm. That, my friends, is an F in the Code of Points, and his toes are pointed the entire time. Pardon me while I swoon.

By the way,  the basket (or peach) is featured in the first photo.

With these pirouetting skills, it is easy to muck up. As you can see in the last photo of the Teng Hai Bin, Danell is a little archy in his handstand. Sometimes, he handles this well, and other times, he starts walking his hands all over the bar. GAH! Male gymnasts tend to do this in training, but in competition, each extra hand movement is a 0.1 deduction.

Also, I've been over the double pike dismount for a few years now. Pretty much everyone does one because it's a D (which adds 0.5 to your difficulty score). You're going to see a lot of them. Personally, I'd like to see more creative dismounts, but that's just me.

Anyway, moving onto the 24 year-old German Zoolander. (Watch his routine from the European Championships here)

Marcel's style is completely different from Danell's, and I love it just as much. (Yes, believe it or not, you can appreciate two distinct styles of gymnastics.) Whereas Danell's routine is composed of deceptively simple-looking skills, with Marcel, you know that his routine is hard. His skills, though not belabored, just look frickin' hard. For instance, he does a Dimitrenko, which is a double back starting on his upper arms and finishing on his upper arms. You see that, and you can't help but say, "Damn."


He also does a full-twisting double back dismount (called a Kato). Your jaw should drop when you see that. It's one of two F dismounts on parallel bars for men.

Also, Marcel has extremely well-manicured eyebrows. I'm still trying to decide whether I love them or hate them. (Feel free to weigh in.)

What I do know is that I hate his form. When he's off, his legs immediately spread open. I shall call these his "Oh, haaaaay" legs.

Those legs make me want to flagellate myself with a wet noodle. GAH! If he competes like that, Marcel might not qualify for event finals on parallel bars. Yes, that's right. Even though he is doing the hardest dismount in the world and even though he has posted the highest score in the world, his terrible form might prevent him from having a shot at an Olympic medal.

Dear Marcel, close your legs. xx, Uncle Tim


  1. First off, I just found your blog and it's amazing.

    Both Danell and Marcel are great on pbars, but I'm rooting for Marcel. He's not the most consistent with his execution (those darn oh, haaaaay legs). When he does hit, like he did during the EC event finals, its pretty awesome to watch, especially his dismount. Here's hoping he makes it past qualifications and takes the gold in London.

    Can't wait to read about the next rivalry you post!

  2. Orozco used to do the Kato

  3. Thank you for breaking down MAG for those of us that are only well-versed in WAG! This blog is going to save me for many years to come :)

  4. I took a set of headshots with grips on once. True story.

  5. I love your blog. Thanks!

  6. I have one MAJOR problem with your blog, and it's that you've been writing it for such a short time that I managed to read all your posts in a single morning. Fantastic stuff. Possibly the best breakdown I've ever seen in terms of technical issues for men or women, and funny to boot. Awesome.

  7. I just discovered your blog (thanks Very funny! I follow Spanny's blog and just added yours to my favorites list :) Keep up the good work!

  8. Weighing in on the eyebrows, I believe they are just too Romulan for me. Have you checked to see if his blood is green?

  9. I haven't gotten through the post that quickly but I got to the part where it was like "the Kato is the only F dismount on men's pbars", but there's one more called a Belyavskiy which is a double pike front that was submitted and credited in Tokyo.

    Last thing; YES! I HAVE ACTUALLY FOUND A MEN'S GYM BLOG <3! I look forward to reading much more!

    1. Ryan, thanks for the correction! I've been writing these posts in trains, planes, and automobiles, and I didn't have time to check the FIG Newsletter from January. It's been fixed.

  10. I HATE MN's new eyebrows. His looks went down hill right after the Beijing Olympics. Believe me. I know. I've been fantasizing about this dude since 2005. A lil bit creepy but that's the truth.

  11. MN takes back home silver medal in London olympic games! hooray!

  12. August 10, 2012
    (sorry, this comment did not post last night so I am retrying this morning)

    On Japan's NHK Newswatch 9 TV program this evening they had a live studio interview with the four members of the Japan Men's Gymnastics team that won the silver medal. 
    They were all very subdued and expressed disappointment in their individual performances and only ranked their team performance around 70 of 100 points. 

    The one team member is Ryohei Kato, whose father is the legendary gymnast Sawao Kato. 
    The news anchor pointed out that the parallel bar dismount (full-twisting double back) performed by Marcel Nguyen at the Olympics is known as the Kato Dismount, named after Sawao. (this was presented in the blog entry discussion above; in the paragraph just after the set of "damn" pictures. A google search of Kato initially brought me to this blog site.)

    Thus, Ryohei was at this Olympic event and watched as a maneuver named after his father was performed by the German gymnast. 
    Ryohei must feel a lot of pressure performing under his father's far-reaching legacy. 


    BTW-- Marcel's well-manicured eyebrows are very typical for Japanese boys (teenagers) and many Japanese men. They keep the brow hair trimmed extremely short and some even pluck to create very thin eyebrow lines. 

    Watching these Olympic games, I also noticed some male athletes shave their armpits such as Marcel does. 
    Swimmers have done this for a long time due to obvious reasons. 
    However, for other athletes such as gymnasts to do this is a growing trend. 
    Makes you wonder just how much "manscaping" is happening on other areas of their body. 


    Uncle Tim : This was a fun blog to read; a nice casual yet informative writing style.