The 2016 Olympic Games are finally under way in Rio. Oklahoma fans will take a special interest in men’s Gymnastics this year, with four Sooners representing the United States. Men’s gymnastics head coach Mark Williams will be making his olympic debut, and Sooner gymnasts Jake Dalton, Chris Brooks, and Alex Naddour will all be vying for medals. Chris Brooks was recently named captain of the men’s gymnastics team.
Qualifying rounds for the Olympic finals begin Saturday, August 6th. They can be watched (on tape-delay) on NBC starting at 7 CST. Those looking to watch live can stream the events from NBCOlympics.com.
The women's gymnastics team begins their qualifying round Sunday, August 7th.
Although the gymnasts have already been through several qualifying rounds, this is the ultimate hurdle they must pass in order to be eligible for Olympic finals and medal contention. Some combination of Dalton, Brooks, and Naddour will be represented in every qualifying event:
- Floor exercise: Brooks, Dalton, Naddour
- Pommel Horse: Brooks, Naddour
- Still rings: Brooks, Dalton, Naddour
- Vault: Brooks, Dalton, Naddour
- Parallel bars: Brooks, Dalton
- Horizontal bars: Brooks, Dalton
That’s a pretty impressive representation of Sooner standouts. Five other former Sooner athletes will be represented at the games, bringing the all-time tally to 73 Olympic athletes.
The 2012 Olympics in London were a disappointing campaign for USA gymnastics. The team was initially heralded as the one of the strongest in U.S. history, but couldn’t follow up. They seemed poised for multiple golds, but disappointment came quickly. After breezing through the preliminary round, they faltered, tallying just one bronze medal and a fifth overall finish. Now, new coach Mark Williams is looking to usher in a new era of men’s gymnastics dominance, starting in Rio.
All five of Williams’s gymnasts were in London at some capacity, so the failure certainly plays large in their minds. Let’s hope the athletes (especially the Sooners!) can make podium appearances and bring home some hardware for the United States.