Brody Malone competes in horizontal bar at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on July 28, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
Walking towards the still rings for its final rotation, Team USA was in prime position to secure a medal. It was just a matter of which one.
Following a strong performance across six individual apparatuses, the U.S. men’s gymnastics team claimed the silver medal in the team final before a raucous Peruvian crowd at the Villa El Salvador Sport Center. Led by Stanford University alum Robert Neff, Team USA kept pace with first-place Brazil throughout the competition, posting event highs on floor exercise and pommel horse. Ultimately, the team came up just short of a gold-medal finish, leaving a bittersweet taste in the mouths of its members.
“Coming away with a silver and training with these guys here has been a fun experience,” said Genki Suzuki. “It’s tough coming up just short of a gold, but we’ll take this experience to become better the next time we represent Team USA.”
For each member of Team USA, the Pan American Games signified the largest international competition of their careers. With deafening chants of “Pe-ru, Pe-ru!” echoing off the stadium walls, the American men were able to settle their nerves and focus on the task at hand. Some even reveled in the heighten competition atmosphere.
“Everybody here made us feel at home,” Suzuki said. “It was such a warm welcome, and it almost didn’t feel like we were in another country. It made for such a great experience.”
Several members of Team USA posted top scores at the competition on the individual apparatuses. With a near flawless routine, Neff posted the top score on the floor exercise (14.050), while his teammate and fellow Stanford Cardinal Brody Malone notched an event-best 14.500 on the pommel horse. Neff also posted the fourth-best score on pommel horse (14.100), helping him earn the top position in all-around after the team final.
The men’s team final also served as a qualification event for the men’s individual all-around and event finals on July 29. Sitting in first place qualified Neff for the individual all-around final, alongside teammate Malone. Neff also qualified for event finals in floor exercise and pommel horse, while Malone advanced to the pommel horse and parallel bars event finals. Cameron Bock of the University of Michigan qualified for the parallel bars final.
“It’s definitely a cool feeling to be on top (in all-around), and it’s definitely going to be a big competition tomorrow,” said Neff. “Everyone is going to be less nervous because they’ve gotten the main event out of the way. I’m definitely to fix some of the mistakes I had tonight and leave it all out there.”