The men's qualification competition begins with a bang, with host Great Britain taking the floor alongside defending world and Olympic champion China.
The men's qualification competition begins with a bang, with host Great Britain taking the floor alongside defending world and Olympic champion China. The format for qualification is 5-4-3: five gymnasts per team with four gymnasts competing on each event and three scores counting to the team total.
Mixed Group 3: Floor Exercise
Mixed Group 3 includes Ireland's Kieran Behan, who has one of the most inspiring stories of the Olympics. Behan has survived numerous setbacks, first facing a tumor in his leg that left him in a wheelchair. After he returned to the sport, a fall off high resulted in a severe brain injury that had doctors predicting he would never walk again. After three years away spent doing rehabilitation, Behan defied the odds by returning to gymnastics. He is the second Irish gymnast to qualify to the Olympic Games, and he is gunning for the floor exercise final.
Mixed Group 3 also includes Argentina's Federico Molinari, who has an outside shot at the still rings final, and Artur Davtyan, the second gymnast to represent independent Armenia in the Olympics.
Korea: Pommel Horse
Korea begins on pommel horse, an event world vault champion Yang Hak Seon will be skipping. The 19-year-old Yang — the only gymnast on Korea's team not named Kim — should set the bar high in rotation three with his astounding triple-twisting handspring layout front vault. Korea finished seventh at the 2011 Worlds in Tokyo and can qualify to Monday's team finals.
Great Britain: Still Rings
The Brits begin on still rings, their weakest event, meaning they end the day on pommel horse, their best event. All-around medal contender Dan Purvis is expected to pace Great Britain, which needs to only perform cleanly to advance to the team final. The British crumbled under the pressure in Tokyo, performing distrously, but rebounded to win the second qualification event and secure a berth to London. Multiple medals are within reach for the British, with all five of the team members capable of qualifying for individual event finals. The big pressure will be on superstar Louis Smith, who has one high bar routine to do until his pommel horse set in the final rotation. Smith is capable of the most difficult routine in the world on his speciality, but he may opt to play it safe to ensure his spot in finals. Young Max Whitlock is also capable of a finals berth on pommel horse, while Kristian Thomas will need to land his Yurchenko double pike to get into the vault final. The team is so deep world all-around runner-up Daniel Keatings was left the alternate, and the pressure is on for Great Britain to take home a team medal.
After winning seven of eight golds four years ago in Beijing, the Chinese men's team has nowhere to go but down. The five-member team format has left this nation of specialists struggling. Top all-arounder Teng Haibin, the 2004 Olympic champion on pommel horse, withdrew Wednesday with an arm injury. Team captain Chen Yibing is also suffering from a knee injury, and may skip some events.
The Chinese men are notoriously unpredictable in qualification, where their focus seems to be advancing individuals to finals rather than a strong team total. Though relatively weak, this Chinese team is still the most decorated at the O2. Four of the five members have won individual world championship gold medals, and Chen (still rings) and Zou Kai (floor exercise and high bar) are defending Olympic champions from 2008. In 2012, the Chinese men could finish off the team podium or flex their muscle to win six gold medals.
France: Parallel Bars
Decimated by injury, the French men are not the team force they once were. Losing Thomas Bouhail to a likely career-ending injury was the biggest blow to the team, which also lost reigning Olympic all-around bronze medalist Benoit Caranobe and Samir Ait Said to leg injuries. Team captain Yann Cucherat, suiting up in his fourth Olympics, is a sentimental favorite for finals berth on parallel bars and high bar. Pommel horse standout Cyril Tommassone is the team's best shot for a medal in London.
Mixed Group 4: High Bar
Dutch star Epke Zonderland will need nerves of steel as the first gymnast to compete on high bar at the 2012 Olympic Games. A favorite for the gold medal, the high-flying Zonderland can't risk his most difficult combinations in qualification if he hopes to reach the final. Zonderland also has a shot at the final on parallel bars, but it's his insane high bar that could make him an Olympic hero for the Netherlands.
Mixed Group 4 also includes Croatia's Filip Ude, the reigning silver medalist on pommel horse from Beijing, with hopes of another final in London.
Flip over to International Gymnast Magazine's official Facebook page for live commentary from the Olympic Games!
Up Next: Japan and the U.S. storm the O2 in subdivision two!