Leyva Wins Two Silver Medals in Men’s Gymnastics at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

Danell Leyva has redeemed himself in a big way…

The 24-year-old Cuban American gymnast earned two silver medals in the final day of gymnastics competition on Tuesday at the 2016 Rio Games.

Danell Leyva

Leyva, who was a late replacement to the US Men’s Gymnastics team when an injured John Orozco had to bow out, claimed silver on both parallel bars and high bar, completing a three-month journey from injury to alternate to medalist.

“Nobody has a perfect day, but I feel like this was this as close to perfect as I possibly could have gotten,” Leyva said, “and I’m incredibly happy.”

Oleg Verniaiev won gold in the men’s parallel bars event Tuesday with a score of 16.041, edging  Leyva , and David Belyavskiy of Russia, who won bronze.

Danell Leyva

Leyva won a second silver medal on the horizontal bar, finishing behind Fabian Hambuechen of Germany, who won gold, and ahead of Nile Wilson of Britain, who won bronze.

Leyva began his afternoon’s work with the parallel bars and completed it with the horizontal bar, from which he had fallen during last week’s men’s team final.

“This was absolutely a redemption, not only for me but for the team as well. My success is as much for the team as it is for me,” he said.

It was a bit of a shock when Leyva wasn’t selected to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Leyva, who took home a bronze medal four years ago at the 2012 London Games, was chosen to serve as a team alternate. Leyva was the only U.S. male gymnast to bring home a medal in 2012.

 

Well, he got his redemption on Tuesday in Rio, earning his pair of silver medals.

Leyva to Replace an Injured John Orozco on the USA Mens Gymnastics Team

Danell Leyva will compete in his second Olympics after all…

The Cuban-American gymnast, a Bronze Medal winner in the 2012 London Olympics in the Men’s All Around, will replace John Orozco at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Danell Leyva

Orozco tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee during training this week and will not compete in Brazil next month.

Orozco, a star four years ago when he won the national championship and qualified for the Olympic all-around finals, injured the same knee late in 2012. Orozco has also twice torn the Achilles tendon in his right leg during his career.

National team coordinator Kevin Mazeika called Orozco’s latest injury “unfortunate and heartbreaking.”

The injury is the latest in a series of personal and professional setbacks for Orozco, who also lost his mother, Damaris, in the spring of 2015.

Leyva, who appeared in his birthday suit in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue in 2012, was left off the five-man team going to the Rio Games by the USA Gymnastics selection committee.

He was edged out by Orozco, Chris Brooks and Alex Naddour, who had a higher combination of four scores from the U.S. championships and trials than Leyva, who competed with injuries at the national meet after being bitten on his hands and left leg while trying to break up a fight between his American bulldogs. Four-time national champion Sam Mikulak and Jake Dalton made the Olympic team with no debate.

Leyva finished 10th overall at trials and 16th at nationals earlier this month. He tied with one other gymnast for the highest score on parallel bars and horizontal bar and was confident he would be chosen on the strength of those routines and his record of accomplishment.

But the five-man committee surprised many by not choosing Leyva, who has a reputation as a clutch athlete. The bigger the stage, the better he loves to perform.

“We don’t know the reason and we’re a little sad, but they are making a big mistake,” said his coach and stepfather Yin Alvarez after the decision was revealed. “Dani is obviously the only guy who can bring them a medal under pressure. Without him, how are they going to win a team or all-around medal?”

But now he’ll get his chance to show the committee and the world just what he’s capable of in the clutch.

Stanton Poses ‘In the Flesh’ for ESPN Magazine’s “The Body Issue”

There’s apparently more than meets the eye when it comes to Giancarlo Stanton… At least when he’s wearing his Miami Marlins uniform.

The 23-year-old half-Puerto Rican professional baseball player, who was named Topps All-Star Rookie Outfielder in 2010 and a National League All-Star in 2012, shows off his oh-so-toned cuerpo in ESPN‘s fifth annual “The Body Issue.”

Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton, an MLB Home Run Derby pick, is one of more than a dozen athletes appearing completamente desnudos in the sports magazine’s popular issue, which aims to admire the vast potential of the human form and appreciate “the bodies we want.”

“Baseball — it’s a grind, man,” says Stanton. “With all the travel, you have to schedule your workouts. But I have cheat days. If I’m going to cheat, I’m going to cheat. It’s no, ‘Oh, I’ll have one bite.’ I’m eating the whole thing and you order on your own.”

For his wet-and-wild shoot, the Marlins outfielder stripped down to his birthday suit and was coated with gold paint before being splashed with water in his infield area.

But Stanton isn’t the only Hispanic athlete featured in ESPN’s “The Body Issue.”

Daila Ojeda

Daila Ojeda appears opposite her boyfriend Chris Sharma in a dramatic series of rock images.

The 32-year-old Spanish rock climber says, “through climbing, you can learn important things like motivation, personal growth, fear. The important thing for me is trying to force my own limits. I try what I want to try; I don’t think about the success,” says Ojeda.

Marlen Esparza

Meanwhile, Marlen Esparza hits the ring in her birthday suit and a pair of boxing gloves.

The 23-year-old Mexican American boxer, who earned a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, is photographed in mid-action, as she takes jabs at a punching bag.

“I imagine the fight over and over,” says Esparza. “I imagine my opponent, I imagine what she’s throwing, what I’m going to throw back. Sometimes I win the fight, sometimes I lose. I just imagine every scenario – that way when I get in the ring it’s not as intimidating, it’s like I’ve already done it.”

Stanton, Ojeda and Esparza follow in the naked footsteps of Carlos Bocanegra, Maria Gabeira and Danell Leyva, who were featured in last year’s issue.

Leyva’s Post-Olympics Hope? To Host SNL

London Olympics 2012

He wowed the world with his incredible comeback in the men’s gymnastics individual all-around competition at the 2012 Olympic Games… And, now Danell Leyva is ready to make everyone laugh.

Following the 20-year-old Cuban American gymnast’s bronze medal run at the London Games, Leyva is hoping to host NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Danell Leyva

“That would be amazing,” Leyva told Us Weekly after appearing on Today on Thursday morning. “If they asked me to host it, I probably would be the happiest person ever,” said Levya, adding he’d want “Drake or Lil Wayne” to be the musical guest.

Levya’s medal chances didn’t look so good after his first two routines, and he found himself in 19th place. But after turning the beat around in his final two rotations, Leyva shot to third place and earned the bronze, with the gold medal going to Japan’s Kohei Uchimora of Japan, and the silver to Germany’s Marcel Ngyuen.

Letting the moment sink in, Levya told Us he’s feeling “a lot of happiness, a lot of excitement. It’s awesome!”

He added, however, that he’s still hungry: “I’m being completely sincere when I say that I’m happy, but I’m not satisfied yet. I still have more to strive for . . . that’s Team USA‘s motto.”

Danell Leyva

Next Tuesday, Leyva—who appears in the buff in ESPN’s “The Body Issue,” will compete in the High Bar finals. And, he’s thrilled to be able to share in the Olympic experience with his parents.

“I’m so lucky to have [my dad] here. He’s my dad but he’s also my coach,” he explained. “And I had my mom in the Village too with me! She’s been with me every day . . .It gives you such a sense of calmness. I’m a little bit of a momma’s boy but it’s okay! I now have this thing,” he said, holding up his medal, “to keep me tough!”

Leyva Earns Bronze in Men’s All-Around at London Games

London Olympics 2012

Talk about a colossal comeback… Following a shaky start in the first half of the men’s gymnastics all-around competition, American Danell Leyva stormed back to claim the bronze medal at the 2012 London Games.

The 20-year-old Cuban American gymnast, who appears completamente desnudo in ESPN‘s fourth annual “The Body Issue,” was always considered a strong candidate to win an all-around medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. After all, he’d earned the highest qualifying score of the finalists during the team competition.

Danell Leyva

But Leyva stumbled in his second routine, the pommel horse, and appeared to be totally out of the competition halfway through the competition. After three of his six routines, Leyva was tied for 17th place.

But Leyva roared back to life on his fifth event, the parallel bars, where the Cuban-born gymnast showed why he’s the defending world champion in that event. He hit his routine and earned a 15.833, putting him in sixth place in the final rotation, less than a point behind eventual silver medalist Marcel Nguyen of Germany.

Danell Leyva

Leyva then completed his miraculous comeback with an inspired routine on the high bar. He nailed each release; and he topped off a stellar routine with a landing that had just a small step and pumped his fists. Leyva didn’t need the scoreboard to tell him he’d turned the beat around to end the day as the first Latino Olympic men’s all-around medalist.

Danell Leyva

“It was so much fun,” Leyva said of his final routine, which scored a night’s best score of 15.700 in the routine. “I didn’t think about anything else but the fun.”

Kohei Uchimura of Japan, the three-time defending world champion, earned the gold with a final score of 92.690 and Nguyen was the surprise silver medalist with a total of 91.031. Leyva had 90.698 points.

Leyva had praise for the 23-year-old Uchimura and a prediction.

“If I spoke Japanese,” said Leyva, “I would tell him that he is the best gymnast that ever lived. So far. I’m going to keep working to beat him.”

Leyva also said he hoped Uchimura sticks around for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro because, Leyva said, “I want to beat him.”

Meanwhile, Leyva’s teammate John Orozco, who beat Leyva to win the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Championships in June, finished in 8th place.  The 19-year-old Puerto Rican gymnast ended the night with a score of 89.331.

Bocanegra Featured in ESPN’s Body Issue

He’s one of the top defenders in Major League Soccer with his jaw-dropping play…  But Carlos Bocanegra isn’t leaving people with la boca abierta for a whole other reason.

The 33-year-old half-Mexican American futbolista, a star player for Glasgow’s Rangers Football Club in the Scottish Premier League, is one of 27 world-class athletes featured au naturel in ESPN‘s fourth annual “The Body Issue,” which aims to admire the vast potential of the human form and appreciate “the bodies we want.”

ESPN Body Issue 2012: Carlos Bocanegra

The athletes are all stars in a wide-ranging number of sports, from tennis to track, from gymnastics to sailing, from horse racing to fencing, from surfing to decathlons, from football to hockey.

Bocanegra, a member of the United States Men’s National Soccer Team, says of his fine physique:

ESPN Body Issue 2012: Carlos Bocanegra

“Soccer players run a lot, so we don’t keep a lot of body fat,” says the California native. “We hear from members of the opposite sex that they enjoy our legs.”

But Bocanegra isn’t the only Hispanic athlete featured in the issue…

ESPN Body Issue 2012: Maria Gabeira

Maria Gabeira is another all-star athlete who embraced the nudity concept. The 25-year-old Brazilian big wave surfer, an ESPY Award winner for Best Female Action Sports Athlete in 2009, isn’t afraid of her own strength.

“Most women are afraid of being too strong,” says the five-time Billabong XXl Award winner. “When you surf, your muscles get bigger, especially your shoulders. But this sport is so great because it’s so aerobic that it doesn’t make you bulky.”

ESPN Body Issue 2012: Danell Leyva

Danell Leyva, the 20-year-old Cuban-American gymnast, who will be competing at the Summer Olympics in London as part of the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Team, proves he’s not only an all-around gymnast, but a flexible one too.

ESPN Body Issue 2012: Danell Leyva

“As a male gymnast, you lose a lot of flexibility as you build muscle,” but I’m OK,” says Leyva. “I can still do the splits.”

ESPN Body Issue 2012: Jose A Bautista

José A. Bautista may not be able to do splits, but the 31-year-old Dominican baseball star and right fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays can hit homers.

“It’s pretty funny that people think I’m supposed to have big arms just because I hit home runs,” says Bautista.

ESPN Body Issue 2012: Cynthia Barboza

The issue also includes members of the USA Women’s Volleyball Team, including 25-year-old Latina standout Cynthia Barboza.

ESPN’s oh-so-revealing “Body” issue is due out on July 13.

Click here for a look at the gallery of photos from the issue.

http://espn.go.com/espn/photos/gallery/_/id/8136693/image/30/anna-tunnicliffe-2012-body-issue-bodies-want-espn-magazine

Orozco Comes From Behind to Claim U.S. Gymnastics Crown

He’s nicknamed “Silent Ninja” by his friends for his ability to sneak up on the competition… And, that’s just what John Orozco has done at the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Championships.

Competing in his final event on Saturday, the calculator in the 19-year-old Puerto Rican gymnast’s head told him he hadn’t done enough to catch his front-running teammate and fellow Latino gymnastics star, 20-year-old Cuban-American Danell Leyva.

John Orozco

“I was thinking to myself ‘I don’t think that will do it,’ ” Orozco said after ending his floor exercise routine.

But then the scoreboard flashed:15.500. Somewhere in the crowd, Orozco’s mother, Damaris, shrieked. The “Silent Ninja” had done it again, this time to claim the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics title.

John Orozco

The best floor score Orozco can remember ever seeing next to his name propelled him to a two-round total of 184.850 and the national title, just ahead of Leyva’s 184.800.

“He doesn’t know how to lose,” said two-time U.S. champion Jonathan Horton, who finished fourth. “He doesn’t have a weakness. He’s just a phenomenal gymnast. The one thing is, he gets in a zone and you can’t break it.”

 

Horton, Sam Mikulak, Jake Dalton and Chris Brooks also secured automatic bids to the Olympic trials in three weeks. Brandon Wynn, Paul Ruggeri, David Sender and Alex Buscaglia were awarded trial spots based on a points system developed by USA Gymnastics officials, and Steven Legendre, Glen Ishino, Alex Naddour, Joshua Dixon and C.J. Maestas received invitations from the selection committee.

Barring any calamity, Orozco and Leyva can book their flights to London as the leaders of perhaps the strongest American team since 1984. The top four on Saturday posted more than 90 points for the second straight round — the threshold for elite Olympians — giving the Americans plenty to work with as the Olympics loom.

And that — not slipping past Leyva in the final moments — is what mattered most to Orozco.

“For me it really wasn’t about winning, but it was about putting together a good routine and a good performance and showing how we’re going to do in London,” Orozco said. “Hopefully this is going to be a preview.”

“Of course I’m upset I didn’t get first and it’ll drive me to win trials,” Leyva said. “I’m upset with myself, but I’m not mad. I’m actually happy … because everybody’s doing amazing.”

Orozco may lack Leyva’s flair, but he makes up for it with quiet elegance and precision. Both were on display as he closed on Saturday.

While Leyva labored through his pommel horse routine, Orozco — with Damaris “watching” from the stands with her eyes covered — sailed over the high bar to post a score of 15.850 and draw within less than a point.

Still, Leyva appeared to have things in hand and seemed safe after a clean run on the still rings. He and stepfather/coach, Yin Alvarez, celebrated after Leyva stuck the landing, figuring his 14.550 was enough to clinch a second straight national title. Even Horton figured the drama was over.

“I was getting ready to go, but I heard (Leyva) hit the floor and in my head I went, ‘Congrats,'” said Horton.

Only problem, Orozco wasn’t quite finished.

Moving fluidly through his 45-second floor routine, Orozco channeled a breakdancer while doing a series of flares and appeared cemented to the ground at the end of each tumbling run, with not a misstep in sight.

“It’s definitely the best floor routine I’ve ever done,” Orozco said.

Orozco knows if he and his teammates can match their scores in London, the U.S. is a threat to reach the top of the podium for the first time in 28 years. Though he didn’t win an individual gold this weekend, Orozco finished among the top eight in all six events. It’s that kind of consistency that can help guide a team to Olympic glory.

Orozco’s not ready to think about it, but Horton is. The 26-year-old helped the U.S. land a bronze in Beijing four years ago, then added a silver on high bar. He knows what will happen if the U.S. can duplicate its top scores from this weekend at the O2 Arena next month.

“We’re going to freak a lot of people out,” Horton said. “We’re going to make a lot of people go ‘Wow, Team USA is no joke.’ “