Ryan Lochte Wins First U.S. Olympic Gold; Danell Leyva Dominates in Men's Gymnastics Qualifications

See also "Six South Florida Athletes To Keep Tabs On During the Games," "Introducing Your Florida Athletes," "London 2012 Olympics: South Florida Athletes (Photos)"

The bad news for Team USA so far seems to be Michael Phelps' embarrassing start at the London 2012 Olympics. But the good news is Florida athletes are giving Team USA hope for Olympic gold.

(It's refreshing to see our state in a positive light instead of a source of ridicule, isn't it?)

Swimmer Ryan Lochte, of Daytona Beach, gave the United States its first and so far only gold medal after winning the 400-meter individual medley. Phelps, who barely qualified for the finals, came in fourth.

Lochte, who The Miami Herald calls a "Cuban-American athlete" (hey, you learn something new every day) and graduated from the University of Florida, previously earned two gold medals while competing the 2008 Beijing games.

Closer to home, gymnast Danell Leyva, of Homestead, is on his way to making Miami-Dade proud.

Leyva led his team in today's qualification round in men's gymnastics. How good was he? Team USA ranks first going into the men's team competition. Leyva himself qualified for the individual all-around, ranking first; and he also qualified for the men's horizontal bar, which is considered his strong suit.

If Leyva can lead Team USA to the highest spot on the podium, it will be the country's first team gold since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics (which the former Soviet Union and its allies boycotted, so winning gold was a little easier that year). In Beijing, Team USA won the bronze.

And the last American man to win the all-around was Paul Hamm at the 2004 Athens games, while Trent Dimas last won gold for the U.S. in the horizontal bar in 1992.

The Olympic winners will be determined for men's gymnastics team all-around on Monday, July 30; the individual all-around Wednesday, August 1; and horizontal bars Tuesday, August 7.

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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran