Scott Johnson, 27, a veteran of the gold-medal-winning '84 team, qualified behind Lakes and was in top form after recovering from the bone fracture in his right hand 10 weeks ago that forced him to miss the nationals. Tim Daggett, 26, the other member of that '84 team attempting a comeback, was not as successful, although even being able to compete after the artery-severing leg break he suffered at the world championships last year in Rotterdam was a triumph. Going into the optionals Friday night in eighth place, Daggett withdrew after three events, an Olympic berth effectively out of range.
But the most poignant moment of the night came last, during Dan Hayden's high bar routine. Hayden, 23, who had won the men's all-around championship in Houston, stood second to Lakes and needed just an 8.7 to make the Olympic team. Even though he had separated his right shoulder a few minutes earlier, warming up on the parallel bars, Hayden decided to try his trademark release on the high bar—a flyaway 1� backflip over the bar to a regrasp—but missed it and fell, for an automatic deduction of .5. If he had resumed his routine from that point, he could have scored an 8.7 and finished sixth overall. Instead, Hayden jumped up and tried the same move again. Citius, altius, fortius. He missed again and scored an 8.3 to drop from second place to eighth, behind Lakes, Johnson, Kevin Davis, 22, Wes Suter, 24, Lance Ringnald, 18, Dominick Minicucci, 19, and first-alternate Tom Schlesinger, 22.
"I was training for this for 17 years," said Hayden afterward. Then, referring to his identical twin, who finished 11th in the trials, he added, "I didn't want to go without Dennis, I guess."