U.S. Olympic men's gymnastics team
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Analyzing the U.S. Olympic men’s gymnastics team

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Every member of the U.S. Olympic men’s gymnastics team for Rio was at the London Games.

Sam MikulakJacob Dalton and John Orozco competed at the 2012 Games; Chris Brooks and Alex Naddour watched as unused alternates.

Together in Brazil, they will be tasked with putting the U.S. back on the Olympic team final podium.

That won’t be easy, considering the U.S. was a disappointing fifth at both the London Games and at the 2015 World Championships.

China and Japan are the world powers in men’s gymnastics. The U.S. is at best in the next tier with Great Britain (which actually outscored China at 2015 Worlds) and Russia.

However, the U.S. team at the 2015 Worlds was without then-injured Mikulak, Dalton and Orozco. Brooks and Naddour have stepped up since just missing the 2012 team.

Here’s a look at the five-man U.S. Olympic team and each gymnast’s credentials:

Sam Mikulak
2012 Olympian
2013/2014 World Championships team member
Four-time U.S. all-around champion

Mikulak won every national-level all-around title this Olympic cycle, but his best world championships all-around finish was sixth in 2013. He has zero individual Olympic or world medals. He missed the 2015 Worlds due to a partial left Achilles tear, but bounced back by sweeping the P&G Championships and Olympic Trials in dominating fashion in June. He’ll be counted on a majority of the events in the Rio team competition.

John Orozco
2012 Olympian
2011/2013/2014 Worlds Championships team member
2012 U.S. all-around champion

Orozco came back from a tragic 2015, the death of his mother that February and tearing his right Achilles for the second time that June. A doctor told him he would be out one year, but Orozco cut that timetable in half. His best events are parallel bars and high bar, but it looks like he’ll be needed on pommel horse. That event was his Waterloo at the London Games.

Jacob Dalton
2012 Olympian
2011/2013/2014 World Championships team member
Two-time individual world medalist (floor silver, vault bronze)

Dalton sat out the 2015 P&G Championships due to a small shoulder labrum tear that required surgery and kept him off the world championships team. Dalton is a strong contributor on floor exercise, where he made the eight-man Olympic final and his last three worlds finals, and on vault and still rings.

Chris Brooks
2010/2015 World Championships team member

Brooks makes his Olympic debut at age 29. He only made the 2015 World Championship team as Mikulak’s replacement. He was second to Mikulak in the all-around at the P&G Championships and Olympic Trials this month, topping the high bar and parallel bars standings. He may also be valuable on vault.

Alex Naddour
2011/2013/2014/2015 World Championships team member

Naddour, who got a London 2012 tattoo to motivate him for Rio, made the eight-man pommel horse final at the last two world championships. His strength on that apparatus, historically the U.S.’ weakest event, will be an asset in Rio. He will likely also be needed on still rings and floor exercise.

MORE: Mikulak wins Olympic Trials; Leyva left off Olympic team

Regan Smith swims another historic backstroke time at Pro Series meet

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Regan Smith, who last summer broke both backstroke world records, put up the fastest 100m back in history outside of a major international meet or trials competition on Saturday.

Smith, a 17-year-old Minnesota high school senior, clocked 58.26 seconds to win at a Pro Series meet in Knoxville, Tenn. It tied for the 12th-fastest time in history. None of the other fastest dozen came in January, six months out from when swimmers peak for the world’s biggest events like the Olympics.

Making it more impressive: Smith did it 27 minutes after finishing second in the 200m butterfly, which she’s also expected to contest at June’s Olympic trials in Omaha.

“It actually wasn’t as bad, as I was nervous it was going to be,” Smith, whose world record is 57.57, said of the double on NBCSN. Smith entered two events per day at the three-day Knoxville meet, in part to prepare for the trials, where she is slated to race six straight days in a bid to make the Olympic team in enough events to swim eight straight days in Tokyo.

On Saturday, Smith held off fellow 17-year-old Phoebe Bacon by six tenths. Bacon beat Smith at the U.S. Open in December, posting the second-fastest time among Americans in the event for 2019.

The teen emergence puts pressure on Kathleen Baker, the Rio Olympic silver medalist who had the world record before Smith took it at worlds.

Full Knoxville results are here. USASwimming.org live streams the last night of finals Sunday at 6:30 ET.

In other events Saturday, world silver medalist Hali Flickinger overcame Smith in the 200m fly, winning in 2:08.34. Smith, third-fastest among Americans last season, was .39 behind. The second-fastest American last year, Katie Drabot, was not in the field. The top two at trials make the Olympic team.

Erika Brown beat world champion Simone Manuel in a freestyle sprint for a second straight meet, taking the 50m free in 24.57 seconds.

Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, edged Manuel by .06 and took .01 off her personal best. Brown ranked third among Americans last year behind Manuel (24.05) and Abbey Weitzeil (24.47).

Brown also defeated Manuel in the 100m free at the U.S. Open in December, moving to fourth-fastest in the U.S. last year in that event. The top six in the 100m free at trials are in line to make the Olympic team, given relay spots.

MORE: Australian swim star issues plea after hometown hit by fires

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Mikaela Shiffrin nearly makes it three-way tie for World Cup win

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Mikaela Shiffrin came .01 shy of making it a three-way tie for a World Cup giant slalom win on Saturday, confirming GS has been the most up-for-grabs discipline for either gender in recent years.

Shiffrin, beaten in her last two slaloms, had the fastest second run to place third behind co-winners Italian Federica Brignone and Slovakian Petra Vlhova in Sestriere, Italy. The reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in the GS rallied from fourth place and .42 behind after the first run.

Shiffrin still leads the World Cup overall standings by 233 points over Vlhova. The American last won Dec. 29. Though she made the podium in three of her four races since, Shiffrin expressed a lack of confidence heading into this weekend’s races at the 2006 Olympic venue.

“The most exciting thing for me is that people have stopped asking me, like, are you unbeatable?” said Shiffrin, who won a record 17 World Cup races last season and has four victories nearly halfway through this season, tied with Vlhova for most on tour. “I feel really good in GS. It’s just been a long time since [the last GS on Dec. 28].”

Vlhova earned her third victory this month after beating Shiffrin those last two slaloms. Brignone leads the GS season standings by 61 points over Shiffrin, seeking to become the sixth different woman to win that discipline title in the last six years. There are four more GS races left this season.

It’s the second straight season with a World Cup GS tie. Last Feb. 1, Shiffrin and Vlhova tied in Maribor, Slovenia.

It’s the first time the top three finishers were separated by such a small margin since the last three-way tie for a win in 2006, when Lindsey VonnMichaela Dorfmeister and Nadia Styger had the same super-G time, and fourth-place Kelly VanderBeek was .01 behind.

“Last season, I had the lucky side of the hundredths many times, so sometimes I’m not going to be on the lucky side, too,” said Shiffrin, who had three victories by .16 or tighter last season.

World Cup racing continues with a parallel giant slalom on Sunday at 5:45 a.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBC Sports Gold.

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MORE: Shiffrin among 10 dominant Winter Olympians of 2010s decade