LONDON — The Chinese men, who seemed sluggish and unenthusiastic when they qualified only sixth among the eight teams that advanced to the gymnastics team final, came out Monday with fist-pumping enthusiasm and finished with arms linked after owning the pommel horse on their last rotation and defending the Olympic gold medal they had won four years ago in Beijing.
While the fans jam-packed Greenwich Arena yelled and clapped and danced and celebrated what seemed to be a team silver medal for Great Britain in the men’s team gymnastics final, judges were huddled and whispering and reviewing the final score awarded to three-time world all-around champion Kohei Uchimura of Japan on his final pommel horse routine.
After Uchimura had dismounted, the final standings had China winning gold, Great Britain silver and Ukraine bronze, with the stunned favorites from Japan appearing downcast and staring at their hands.
But after nearly five minutes of the scoreboard reading “inquiry” into Uchimura’s score, a new finish was posted. China won the gold medal, Japan vaulted into the silver medal spot and Great Britain was down to bronze, still its first team medal since 1912. Ukraine was put into fourth place and its athletes were covering their faces as they saw the news.
It didn’t affect the U.S. team that had easily won the qualifying competition but put out an error-strewn performance Monday that left it in fifth place, two spots below where it had finished both in the Beijing Olympics and at the 2011 world championships.
[For the record, 11:25 a.m. July 30: An earlier version of this post based on initial scoring by Olympic officials had the order as China first followed by Great Britain, Ukraine, Japan and the U.S. The actual order of finish was China, Japan, Great Britain, Ukraine and the U.S.]