- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2008

— A week ago, he wasn’t even on the team, just an alternate who was training with the U.S. men’s gymnastics team in preparation for the Olympics.

Tuesday afternoon (Beijing time) at the electric National Indoor Stadium, Alex Artemev not only was a part of the squad, he clinched a bronze medal in the team competition with a nearly flawless and ambitious pommel horse routine.

The United States entered the last of six rotations in second place but knew Japan had its best event remaining (high bar). Raj Bhavsar scored 13.750 and Kevin Tan a 12.775 after he stopped his routine for a moment.

Artemev was next. A good routine and the United States would medal. A fall like at trials in June and the United States was off the podium.

“I looked up at the standings, and we were in second place, and I just thought, ‘Here we go,’” said Artemev, named to the team last week in place of an injured Morgan Hamm.

Artemev’s flashy performance scored a 15.350 the fourth best among all competitors.

“This bronze medal feels like gold to me,” he said.

Said coach Kevin Mazeika: “That was a huge performance. He did only one event today, and boy did he knock it out of the park.”

China ran away with the team gold in front of its raucous home crowd. Japan was 7.25 points back, followed by the United States, Germany and Korea.

The United States was 13th at the world championships two years ago but rebounded to finish fourth and qualify for the Olympics. When both Paul and Morgan Hamm were lost to injury, it wouldn’t have been a shock if the United States failed to get through Saturday’s qualifications. Instead, it medaled for the second straight games.

“An unbelievable day for us,” Mazeika said. “The guys were incredible from the beginning.”

The United States was second on high bar and third on rings. Burke native Justin Spring competed in four events and had the Americans’ best score in the parallel bars (15.850).

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