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