After the worst two months of his life concluded on Saturday with him falling during his Olympic high bar routine, Nathan Gafuik said he was headed to McDonald's.
The 27-year old from Calgary, Canada's lone male artistic gymnast at the London Olympics, fell off the bar during the qualification round – his only event of the Games. So his 2012 Olympics are over.
Because of a thumb injury he recently suffered, he had chosen not to compete in floor, rings, vault, horse or parallel bars, events which bothered his hand too much. He had to be in the top eight finishers on that apparatus to make it to the high bars final, typically his strongest event, and the one that landed him the single berth awarded to Canada. But his score of 13.866 on the bar Saturday wasn't going to cut it.
"It wasn't the best routine obviously, but under the circumstances, I feel I rose to the occasion," said Gafuik. "I ended up falling, but successfully you could say, all things considered."
Up until a week ago, Gafuik wasn't sure he was going to be able to compete at all. In early June, he had surgery on an injured thumb. Two pins were inserted into his thumb to repair ligament damage. He was then in a cast for two weeks and a brace for the next two.
"I told my surgeon the day of the surgery that I needed to compete on this date, and he said 'ha, yeah, okay'," said the 5-foot-5 gymnast. "So I guess I beat the odds. It was probably the worst two months of my life, so I was proud just to be here."
Canada qualified a men's artistic team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Gafuik was it's youngest member. But this time, the country qualified just a single spot. He made the all-around final at the Beijing Games and finished 17th. It was the second-best all-around performance ever by a Canadian gymnast.
"I'm going to McDonald's first," laughed Gafuik. "Then I'm taking a little time off to let this thing heal properly and then I'll be right back in the gym to give it another shot. Canada needs to get a men's team to the Olympics next time. There is a sense at home that we will definitely achieve that again. It's four years away, and I'm absolutely positive about the future."
The hot performances of the day at the men's gym were by host Team GB, Russia and Team USA. The Americans had the best team score in qualifying, making the all-around team final with Britain, Russia, Germany, Japan, China, Ukraine and France. American Danell Leyva was the top all-around gymnast of the day, followed by Russian David Belyavskiy. The men's team final is on Monday.