Horton makes the team nine months after ripping up his left foot at the world championships in Tokyo last October. The two-time U.S. champion finished third at trials and his steadying presence should help calm any lingering nerves as the U.S. prepares to take on longtime powers Japan and China in London.
Leyva, Orozco, Dalton and Horton were all members of the bronze-medal winning team at worlds last fall, with Leyva taking gold on parallel bars. The dynamic 20-year-old Cuban-born Leyva said a team Olympic gold and an all-around gold are next on his check list, though there's little doubt which one matters most to team organizers.
The U.S. hasn't claimed the top of the podium in the games since Los Angeles in 1984. The Americans head to London with the ability to put up impressive numbers in five of the six rotations. Pommel horse remains an issue, though Orozco and Leyva are much improved, and Mikulak is more than serviceable when completely healthy.
Men's team coordinator Kevin Mazeika insisted he was focused on a team gold and acknowledged the decision to trim Olympic rosters from six to five made the process particularly difficult for a program that's as good as it has been in a generation.
The goal is to compose a roster designed to excel in the team finals, where three gymnasts compete on each apparatus, with all three scores counting. It leaves little room for error but Orozco and Leyva have been rock steady over the last year. The narrowing of the rosters likely cost Brooks a spot. The affable 25-year-old struggled during preliminaries Thursday, at one point flying off the parallel bars then taking out his frustrations in a nearby hallway. He roared back into contention Saturday and ended up tying Dalton for fourth. Considered more of an all-around gymnast than a specialist, Brooks is good insurance if Mikulak's ankle doesn't recover in time for London.