Ikeda, Team Canada come up short at Olympic qualifying meet

Abbotsford's Ken Ikeda and the Canadian men's gymnastics squad fell painfully short of qualifying a full team for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Abbotsford's Ken Ikeda and the Canadian men's gymnastics squad fell just short of qualifying a full team for the Olympics.

Abbotsford's Ken Ikeda and the Canadian men's gymnastics squad fell just short of qualifying a full team for the Olympics.

Abbotsford’s Ken Ikeda and the Canadian men’s gymnastics squad fell painfully short of qualifying a full team for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

At the final qualification meet on Tuesday in London, England – host site for the 2012 Games – Italy edged Canada by a fraction of a point for the last berth in the 12-country Olympic field.

The Canadians had required a top-four finish at the second-chance meet, which featured eight nations, but wound up fifth and will miss the Olympic team event for the first time since 2004. Canada will now be limited to just one individual competitor in the men’s gymnastics event.

Ikeda’s six-member squad got off to a strong start but faltered on high bar and floor, two of its strongest events, and finished with 345.892 points. Great Britain (358.227 points), France (350.659), Spain (347.292) and Italy (346.334) rounded out the top four.

“It’s extremely disappointing to come so close to qualifying and then not make it,” Canadian program director Jeff Thomson stated in a press release. “But there were a number of significant mistakes and those mistakes meant we didn’t make it.”

At 29, Ikeda is the elder statesman on the Canadian squad. He’s a specialist on the pommel horse and parallel bars, and has been involved in two previous Olympics – he competed in Athens in 2004, and was an alternate in Beijing in ’08.

The Canadian team had come a long way since losing four members from the ’08 Olympic team to retirement, including veteran leader and 2004 individual gold medallist Kyle Shewfelt of Calgary.

“I don’t believe there’s a single country in the world except the top three – China, Japan and the U.S. – that could lose four super gymnasts all at once as happened to our team after Beijing and still be this close to making it to the Olympics,” Thomson said.

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