Earlier this year, Cuban-American gymnast Danell Leyva thought he would experience the Rio Olympics as an alternate. But an injury to fellow American John Orozco before the Olympics resulted in Leyva claiming the spot. Today, Leyva proved why he deserved to be there. The dude totally dominated in his two individual men’s gymnastics events and we couldn’t be prouder.
Danell Leyva’s first finals event was the parallel bars.
Leyva was the first competitor to take to the parallel bars, setting the bar (?) for the rest of the Olympians battling for the gold.
He was strong, graceful and determined to medal.
“I’m incredibly honored to be chosen for the team but I’m equally devastated for John having seen how much he’s fought and battled for his spot makes these circumstances even harder,” Leyva said in an Instagram post after Orozco tore his ACL during Olympic Team training.
And with a solid dismount, Leyva secured his place on the podium.
Leyva took home the silver with a score of 15.900, just behind Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev, who scored a 16.041. The bronze medal went to Russia’s David Belyavsky, who scored a competitive 15.783.
Then it was on to the high bar. Leyva had a score to settle after his disappointing loss at the London 2012 Games.
And, once again, the alternate turned medalist came through.
Leyva delivered a strong and intimidating routine. This time, he was the last of the finalists to compete.
You could see his coach and stepfather, Yin Alvarez, nervously mimicking Leyva’s routine as if to help in spirit.
There was a small hop on the dismount, but overall, his performance made Germany’s Fabian Hambuechen, the leader, nervous.
Once the results where final, Leyva ended up with his second silver medal for the U.S. in less than two hours. Leyva scored a respectable 15.500, falling just short of Hambuechen’s 15.766. The bronze was awarded to Great Britain’s Nile Wilson, who scored a 15.466.