Riley McCusker competes on the beam during the women's gymnastics individual all-around competition at the Pan American Games Lima 2019on July 29, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
LIMA, PERU – Riley McCusker won a silver medal Monday at the women’s all-around final at the Pan American Games Lima 2019, while U.S. gymnastics teammate Kara Eaker’s solid performance landed her just short of the podium.
In the men’s all-around final, teammates Brody Malone and Robert Neff showed resilience as they recovered from slow starts to finish fifth and seventh, respectively.
The day began with the women’s individual all-around final. McCusker was looking to build upon an impressive qualification round, in which she had the highest total score, 57.050. Eaker entered the finals with the second highest qualifying total score of 56.700.
Eaker had her best performance in the finals on the uneven bars, where she had the second-best score of the day with 13.950. McCusker was consistently solid in three of her four apparatuses. She scored third best in the vault with 14.250, highest in the balance beam with 14.200, and second highest in floor performance with 13.525.
But it was Eaker’s best event in the finals and McCusker’s best event in qualifying, the uneven bars, that ultimately cost McCusker the gold. She slipped and dropped from the bars, limiting her score to 13.150. This opened the door for Canada’s Ellie Black and her total score of 55.250 to edge past McCusker’s score of 55.125. Eaker barely missed the podium with a score of 53.750, .600 behind third-place Flavia Saraiva of Brazil.
“It’s a great feeling,” McCusker said. “Just to come back from my mistake on bars and hit my other routines. I’m really proud of myself for that and the way things ended up.”
Next up were Robert Neff and Brody Malone in the men’s individual final. Both Malone and Neff had the benefit of starting with the event they performed best in during qualifying, Malone in the pommel horse and Neff in floor performance. Despite this potential advantage, both struggled early. While Malone’s score of 12.550 was good for best in his group of six, it was not among the best in the competition. As for Neff, some shaky landings in the floor performance reduced his score to 12.750.
Malone then continued to outperform everyone in his group with scores of 13.500 on the rings, which was fourth best in the final, and a 14.550 in the vault, the third-best performance in the apparatus on the evening. Neff’s struggles continued as he finished second to worst in his group in both the pommel horse and the rings.
“Floor and pommels didn’t go exactly how I wanted,” Neff said. “You really have to segment each event and start new each time. Otherwise, you’ll let that carry through the whole thing. I had to work hard at that today, I just kept telling myself ‘you can do this’ and I kept going through.”
Malone’s positive momentum was interrupted on the parallel bars, where he had a disappointing score of 12.300. As for Neff, things seemed to be looking up as his vault score of 14.450 tied for fourth best in the final. Both athletes were average in the fifth rotation, as Neff scored 13.400 on the parallel bars while Malone posted a score of 13.500 on the horizontal bar.
Malone was impressive in the floor performance, posting a 14.050, which was tied for best in the finals. Neff’s 14.000 was the third best on the evening on the horizontal bar. This late push led to a total score of 80.450 for Malone and 79.700 for Neff.
“It’s definitely great to finish with a good routine when you’ve had a bad day,” Neff said. “It really puts everything in perspective and lets you know that you can fight through to the end and always try to make a difference.”
In the end, their efforts weren’t enough to compete with the Brazilian duo of Caio Souza, who won gold with a score of 83.500, and Arthur Mariano, who finished second with a score of 82.950.
Tomorrow, Neff and his USA teammate Cameron Bock will compete in the men’s floor exercise final, and Neff and Malone will compete in the men’s pommel horse final. Aleah Finnegan will compete in the women’s vault final, and McCusker and Leanne Wong will compete in the women’s uneven bars final.