OU's Jonathan Horton, Steven Legendre and Alex Naddour contribute to Team USA's best-ever Japan Cup performance.
July 2, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. -- Behind strong performances of three University of Oklahoma gymnasts, the United States men’s gymnastics team claimed silver at the 2011 Japan Cup at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan, on Saturday.
Former Sooners Jonathan Horton and Steven Legendre and OU junior Alex Naddour contributed to the five-man squad’s 267.250 team total. The silver-medal performance is the United States’ best-ever finish in the Japan Cup.
"I was extremely pleased with Team USA’s silver medal performance today at the 2011 Japan Cup,” said OU’s Mark Williams, who served as USA’s head coach. “This was a great confidence booster going into the qualifications to the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Olympic Games.
This team proved that the USA has one of the best gymnastics programs in the world and will certainly be contending for medals in Tokyo and London.”
The US total was 0.9 points behind first-place Japan’s 268.150. The Americans fell to Japan by almost 11 points in last year’s competition.
Team USA finished 3.7 points ahead of third-place Great Britain’s 263.500. China, the reigning world champion, took fourth with 262.450.
The Americans posted the best pommel horse team score of the competition with a 45.150. Naddour’s 15.400 on the apparatus was the highest of any competitor in the event.
Team USA also claimed the highest total on high bar (44.050) and tied with China for the top vault score (47.050).
Recent OU graduate and Nissen-Emery Award winner Legendre posted the highest floor score in the event with a 15.800 and was Team USA’s top gymnast on the vault (15.950).
Horton, a four-time letterwinner at OU (2005-2008) and 2008 Olympic high bar silver-medalist, competed in five events, and led the United States on the rings with a 15.000. Horton and fellow American Danell Leyva will compete for the all around title Sunday.
“Oklahoma's representation at this event was outstanding,” said Williams. “I'm very proud of Alex, Jon and Steve's contribution to this team's success."
In Saturday’s team competition, three gymnasts competed in each event. The scores of all three gymnasts counted toward the country’s total. This same format is applied to the finals of the World Championships and Olympic Games.
The international competition serves as a precursor to the 2011 World Championships, which will be held in October at the same Tokyo venue.
The Japan Cup not only served as a preview of the coming World Championships, but was the first major international sporting event in Tokyo since the tragic earthquake that struck Japan in March.