Dooley records best-ever finish for U.S. men in trampoline at Olympic Games
By Jo-Ann Barnas, Special Contributor
RIO DE JANEIRO — It wasn’t exactly the result he was looking for, not for a minute. But in no way was Logan Dooley going to walk away from the Rio Olympics disappointed.
Although he didn’t advance to the final, history will show that the 28-year-old first-time Olympian had achieved Team USA’s best-ever finish in men’s trampoline at the Olympic Games.
Dooley, an Olympic alternate in 2008 and 2012, placed 11th overall in the 16-man field on Saturday at the Rio Olympic Arena — four placements higher than Team USA’s previous best, when Chris Estrada took 15th at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Trampoline has been in the Olympics since 2000 in Sydney.
“Walking onto the floor, I had finally achieved a goal that I really had been looking to achieve,” said Dooley, of Lake Forest, Calif./World Elite Gymnastics. “It’s like winning. I’m still proud. I’m still representing Team USA.”
In a stunning upset, 20-year-old Uladzislau Hancharou of Belarus won the gold medal by defeating 2012 Olympic champion Dong Dong and reigning World gold medalist Gao Lei, both from China.
Hancharou, the 2015 World silver medalist, was second to Gao after qualification, but saved his best aerial acrobatics for the final, taking gold with a score of 61.745. Silver medalist Dong had 60.535, while Gao earned bronze with 60.175.
The three were the only gymnasts in the eight-man final to crack the 60-point barrier.
Dooley, who in 2013 was the first U.S. male to advance to the finals in more than two decades at the World Championships, knew that he would have trouble advancing out of qualifying after struggling with his opening compulsory routine. His score (47.885) put him in 14th place with one more routine — his optional — to go.
“I just wish the start would have started a little better,” he said of his compulsory routine. “I was jumping really high. I ended up getting a relatively high time of flight. I don’t know. The second element just took me by surprise, got a little sideways, but kept it going, kept my composure, and finished my routine.”
Dooley said he spent the time between his two qualifying routines thinking about what he needed to do to come back stronger in his optional.
“I was a little upset, disappointed,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t live up to my potential. The compulsory routine is usually my strongest routine. But I went back there and decided to put it behind me and say, ‘Make the best out of a bad situation. Push forward and see what we can do.’”
Dooley’s optional routine was indeed stronger. He scored 58.170, for a 106.055 qualifying total.
“I was relatively pleased with my optional,” Dooley said. “It started really, really strong. My three triples were all in the center, they felt dead on. I got a little bit loose in my fourth skill, the tiniest bit. I made the correction for the next skill, pushed through, and everything was really good up until the very last skill and then it was, just good.”
Dooley said he will remain in trampoline until he feels it’s time for him to step aside. But for now, he wants to savor what his career has produced: After 21 years in the sport, including more than a decade on the senior national team, he was the America’s best at the Olympic Games.
“Walking into the arena today,’’ he said, “was a great feeling.”