Jonathan Horton

Jonathan Horton boosted by 2008 teammate to successful return

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PITTSBURGH — They delivered the diagnosis to Jonathan Horton while he was on a table in December. A torn pec.

If Horton had ended his career then and there, he would go down as one of the greatest U.S. men’s gymnasts ever.

He led the program in 2008, when an Olympic team bronze meant surprising success, and contributed through 2012, when not making the Olympic team podium meant unexpected failure.

Horton competed in London with a right shoulder “torn to shreds,” a doctor told him right after the Games. Reconstructive surgery. Rehab. Return. Then the torn pec at a national team camp.

So Horton, on that table, heard the news. He gazed at a group around him, including his coach.

“I’ll be at Championships,” he said. Horton meant the P&G Championships, to be held eight months later.

“I was like, uh … OK, he’s being a little aggressive,” said Tom Meadows, Horton’s coach. “We all know the reality of a torn pec.”

The reality was Horton was at P&G Championships, his first competition since the London Olympics. He finished eighth in the all-around and made the U.S. national team.

Horton was not selected for the six-man World Championships squad, but he did accept a spot on the team for the Pan American Championships in Toronto this week.

“What a testament,” Meadows said Sunday.

Truth is, Meadows doubted Horton even on the final day of competition at Consol Energy Center.

“I was concerned coming into [Sunday] if he was going to be able to make all six events, just to make it through, because he was tired,” he said.

Horton’s status was complicated in the hotel shower Sunday morning.

He inadvertently slammed his elbow into a soap tray.

“Like full force,” Horton said. “My elbow split open.”

He didn’t know it at the time, but it was a burst bursa sac. Horton walked out of the shower and turned to his wife, Haley, a former gymnast and medical student.

“Is this normal?” Horton asked.

Haley “freaked out” (Horton’s words) and helped compress the elbow with tape.

“It didn’t affect me at all [Sunday],” Horton said. “It stiffened up a little bit, but not a big deal.”

Horton performed better Sunday than he did the first day of competition Friday, despite his coach’s fear and his shower slip up. He was 12th in the all-around after Friday. He was fifth best Sunday to move up to eighth overall.

“It wasn’t perfect,” Horton said. “I would say, in terms of where I want to be in two years [in Rio de Janeiro as the oldest U.S. Olympic men’s gymnast since 1956], I’m about 50 percent. I’ve got a lot of work to do to catch up to these guys, but I’m up to the challenge.”

He expects to be able to hang with Sam Mikulak, who on Sunday became the first man since Horton to win back-to-back U.S. all-around titles. Mikulak is seven years younger than Horton, a 2012 Olympic teammate.

One of Horton’s 2008 Olympic teammates was in his ear Sunday — Raj Bhavsar. Bhavsar didn’t make his one and only Olympic team until he was nearly 28 years old, as an injury replacement, and after being an alternate in 2004.

He approached Horton before competition and offered some help.

“[Bhavsar] was like hey man, if you’re OK with it, I know what you’re going through,” Horton said. “You’re the older guy out here. You’ve gone through surgeries. You’re trying to push through and stay up to this level. He’s like, if you want man, I can help you out. I can give you some advice.

“I said, absolutely. Stay in my ear, because I’m dead. I’m exhausted. I needed it.”

“I kind of walked in here afraid to compete because of how tired I felt. It shows that the mental side of gymnastics is so important because mentally I stayed in my own little world and just relaxed instead of being so uptight [Sunday].”

Coincidentally, Horton also rotated Sunday with the man Bhavsar filled in for on the 2008 Olympic team, the 2004 Olympic all-around champion Paul Hamm.

Hamm was coaching another gymnast in Horton’s group. Hand and shoulder injuries eventually forced Hamm off the Beijing Olympic team, and he eventually retired for good in 2012.

Horton hopes he’s not yet in the twilight of his career. He insists he could compete in 2020.

“I’m extremely happy with the path that I’m on,” Horton said.

Mary Lou Retton in awe of Simone Biles

Images from the Closing Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics

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The 2018 Winter Olympics have officially come to a close. Check out some of the best photos from the Closing Ceremony in PyeongChang.

If you missed the live stream this morning, then be sure to tune into at 8:00p.m. EST / 5:00p.m. PST to watch NBC’s primetime coverage, or stream it on NBCOlympics.com. 

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PyeongChang late night roundup

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The final gold medalist of these 2018 Winter Olympic Games was a familiar one, and so too is the country which she represents.

Norway’s Marit Bjoergen dominated the field in a sport that she has stood at the top of for years, winning the women’s 30km mass start in just over 80 minutes – almost two minutes ahead of the silver medalist. Bjoergen is the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time with 15 medals.

Another expected gold medalist, OAR, also did the job today. But in much more dramatic fashion. The Olympic Athletes from Russia looked down and out late in the third period of regulation against Germany, but were able to capture the gold in stunning fashion.


Hockey: OAR win gold in overtime 

With just a minute left in regulation, it looked as if Germany were going to claim the most stunning win of the century. Trailing 2-3 and down a player in the power play, Nikita Gusev flicked the puck into the German net to force overtime.

OAR def. GER 4-3 (OT): Highlights

Halfway into overtime, it was OAR’s turn to go up a man on a power play. Kirill Kaprizov was the man who scored the winning goal and secured the gold medal.

OAR vs. GER full recap available here 

Cross-Country: Bjoergen wins 15th overall Winter Olympics medal 

37 year-old Marit Bjoergen dominated the women’s 30km mass start field to win her 15th overall Winter Olympics medal. The Norwegian was on her own for nearly the entire race.

Austria’s Teresa Stadlober was in a commanding position to win the silver medal until the 20th kilometer, where she strayed onto the wrong section of the course. Whether it was a lapse in combination or a mix of mental and psychological exhaustion, the Austrian’s race took a dive from there, finishing in ninth place.

Krista Parmakoski of Finland led the chase to win the silver, whilst Sweden’s Stina Nilsson outsprinted Ingvild Oestberg to win the bronze.

Jessie Diggins, who will be the flag bearer for the U.S. in the Closing Ceremony, finished in seventh place. This was likely Diggins’ final Olympic race.

Women’s 30km mass start full recap available here