Olympic Preview: Men's Qualification, Session 1
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The gymnastics competition at the 2016 Olympic Games begins with a bang on Saturday morning, with home team Brazil and world champion Japan taking the floor at the Rio Olympic Arena. Pictured: Olympic still rings champion Arthur Zanetti of Brazil

The gymnastics competition at the 2016 Olympic Games begins with a bang on Saturday morning, with home team Brazil and world champion Japan taking the floor at the Rio Olympic Arena. At stake are spots in team finals (top eight teams) and the two-per-country individual finals for the all-around (top 24 gymnasts) and apparatus (top eight gymnasts). This session features three reigning Olympic champions in Japan's Kohei Uchimura (all-around), Brazil's Arthur Zanetti (still rings) and Dutch Epke Zonderland (high bar), and world champion Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece (still rings).

Floor Exercise: Mixed Group 3

Mixed Group 3 includes rising star Manrique Larduet of Cuba, who is expected to be a major contender in Rio in the all-around and several events. Petrounias faces one of the most formidable tasks in Rio in trying to snatch Olympic gold from defending champion Arthur Zanetti. Scott Morgan, the lone Canadian male gymnast in Rio, is also aiming for finals on still rings and on vault.

Kohei Uchimura during Wednesday's podium training

Pommel Horse: Japan

The world champions have brought a loaded squad with one goal: gold in the team final. Uchimura and two-time world floor exercise champion Kenzo Shirai lead a spectacular team that also includes 2012 Olympians Ryohei Kato (also doing the all-around), Yusuke Tanaka and Koji Yamamuro, all of whom should challenge for spots in individual finals. Japan last won the Olympics in Athens in 2004 and wants nothing more than to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo as reigning Olympic champions.

Still Rings: Brazil

Last year, the Brazilian men qualified a full team to the Olympics for the first time. This is an excellent team with individual medal hopes in Zanetti and Diego Hypolito (floor exercise), plus Sergio Sasaki and Arthur Mariano, and they should easily reach the team final if they can handle the hometown pressure.

Vault: Korea

Korea starts on vault, where they will sorely miss defending Olympic champion Yang Hak Seon, who missed the Olympics after tearing his Achilles' tendon earlier this year. Kim Hansol, a potential finalist on floor exercise and vault, is Korea's top medal hope.

Parallel Bars: Mixed Group 6

Mixed Group 6 includes all-around standout Jossimar Calvo from Colombia, one of several South American gymnasts expected to make an impact in Rio. Calvo should easily qualify for the all-around finals, and has a chance for parallel bars and high bar as well. Chilean Tomas Gonzalez, fourth on floor and vault in London, is also in this group as is potential floor finalist Alexander Shatilov (Israel).

High Bar: Netherlands

The Netherlands are back at the Olympics with a full men's team for the first time since 1928, but it's a bittersweet appearance for the the Dutch, whose head coach, Mitch Fenner, died of cancer only last month. The team starts on high bar, where Zonderland will compete his only event. Zonderland has struggled with his health since a bad fall last year left him with a serious concussion and lingering problems. Bart Deurloo also has a chance for the high bar final, and former world champion Yuri van Gelder is aiming for the rings final in his first Olympic appearance.

Up Next: Great Britain, Germany and the United States take the floor in session two of men's qualification.

Comments (1)add comment

Dee said:

Where can I find out the apparatus order for the various teams? Since NBC has six individual feeds for the events, I don't want to hunt through them all for the teams I want to follow! (i.e., Japan, China, US!)
August 06, 2016
Votes: +0

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