Sometimes starting over is a disadvantage.
The U.S. men’s gymnastics team finished first Saturday in the qualifying competition that selected eight team finalists.
And Americans Danell Leyva and John Orozco qualified first and fourth in the all-around scoring, both ahead of three-time defending world all-around champion Kohei Uchimura of Japan. He fell twice Saturday.
But all those scores are erased and everything begins when the medal rounds start Monday.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make it finish like that,” said Jonathan Horton, who is the only American left from the men’s team that won bronze in Beijing in 2008.
The Americans scored 275.342 points, well ahead of second-place Russia, which had 272.595. Feeding off the hometown energy at the North Greenwich Arena, Britain qualified third with 272.420. Favored Japan was fifth and defending Olympic gold medalist China was sixth.
Besides qualifications for the team final, Saturday’s scores also earned Leyva and Orozco places in the all-around final; Jake Dalton a chance to compete for floor exercise gold; and Leyva and defending Olympic silver medalist Horton a spot in the high bar final for the U.S.
Maybe it was first-game nerves or a hangover from the opening ceremony. But the U.S. had to overcome a sloppy performance to post an 81-56 victory over Croatia in its first game.
“Everybody was a little nervous,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “We’re better than we showed, but I don’t know that we’re going to be great right off the bat.”
The U.S., which has dominated its opponents en route to the last four gold medals, only led 53-49 early in the fourth quarter before a 16-0 run put the game out of reach.
“Bottom line is this is the Olympics,” Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird said. “A win is a win, regardless of how it works. Beauty is you can learn from it. Now we know what we need to work on.”
Angel McCoughtry started the burst with consecutive layups, and Tamika Catchings capped it with a three-point play that made it 69-49.
McCoughtry finished with 13 points. Tina Charles had 14 points and 10 rebounds; Candace Parker finished with 11 points and 13 boards.
The U.S. men’s archery team experienced both ends of the Olympics’ emotional spectrum Saturday. First, the Americans were euphoric after scoring a convincing upset of world power South Korea in the semifinals at Lord’s Cricket Ground.
About an hour later, their spirits were crushed in the gold medal match when Italy beat them by a single point on the final arrow by Michele Frangili, 219-218.
Frangili was on the Italian team four years ago in Beijing that lost the gold on a last-arrow shot. He wept after the match.
“I have been chasing this medal for 16 years, and the arrow … that was a dream,” he said.
Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, who are trying for a third consecutive gold medal, beat Australians Tasmin Hinchley and five-time Olympian Natalie Cook in the final match, 21-18, 21-19. The No. 2 U.S. men’s team of Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb needed just 33 minutes to put away South Africans Freedom Chiya and Grant Goldschmidt.
Americans Joseph Diaz Jr. and Terrell Gausha posted impressive victories on the first day of the boxing competition.
Diaz looked sharp in a 19-9 victory over Ukraine bantamweight Pavlo Ishchenko in the tournament’s opening bout, while Gausha knocked down Armenian middleweight Andranik Hakobyan twice in the final 7 seconds of his middleweight bout, winning by stoppage with no time on the clock.
American Ariel Hsing advanced to the second round in table tennis after defeating Yadira Silva of Mexico in four straight games. … Elisa Di Francisca completed an Italian sweep in the Olympics’ individual foil, winning the gold, 12-11, in overtime against countrywoman Arianna Errigo. Errigo beat three-time defending champion Valentina Vezzali in the semifinals, denying her Italian teammate a chance to become the first female athlete to win individual gold at four consecutive Olympics.