The United States men’s gymnastics team was sunk by a shaky start and -- despite a strong rally on parallel bars -- missed a medal, finishing fifth for the second straight Olympics on Monday.
Japan won gold by finishing with a spectacular performance on the floor, highlighted by Kenzo Shirai’s bouncing, soaring 16.133 en route to a total of 274.094.
Despite having the day’s top rotation score of 47.866, on parallel bars, China was edged out for silver by Russia. Britain was fourth.
Alexander Naddour’s stumble on floor earned him a 13.566, the USA’s lowest score of the day, though its total there was was slightly better than than the 43.699 on pommel horse, a familiar villain for the US men, who were undone by the horse four years ago in London, where they also finished fifth.
The United States, which missed a medal by 1.438 points, expected better after finishing second in qualifying with room for improvement. Instead, the team of Naddour, Dan Leyva, Sam Mikulak, Jake Dalton and Chris Brooks regressed.
They finished with a 268.560, nearly two points worse than in qualifying.
Four years ago in London, the Americans dominated qualifying only to slide to fifth with a medal on the line, a fall kickstarted by a forgettable set on pommels.
On Monday night, the horse was a problem again, but so was the floor.
The U.S. finished ahead of Brazil, Germany and Ukraine. Japan was led by Shirai's astonishing floor routine, but Kohei Uchimura led the team, competing on each apparatus two days after he fell on the bar, where he is the world champion.
The U.S. rallied on rings and especially on vault after the slow start, but couldn't catch Japan, Russia or defending champ China.
A fall by Britain's Louis Smith on its last apparatus, the horse, may have cost his team a chance to repeat as bronze medalists.