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.
“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.
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.
To say, American gymnast, Simone Biles can’t practice her athletic art form under pressure is to completely misunderstand her strength. The 22-year-old from Colombus, Ohio, has already accomplished what many can’t even fathom. This week the Olympic gold medalist made history on the competitive mat just a couple of days after she confronted the USA Gymnastics for failing to protect her, and more than 150 women, from a sexual predator.
On August 11, Simone Biles landed perfectly after doing a triple-double at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City.
Let us break down what that actually means because it truly is a thing of beauty. Biles successful jumped into the air and completed two flips and three full twists and stuck the landing. She tried to do this exact move on Friday but failed on the landing. This time, however, Biles landed it amazingly. She’s the first woman to have ever completed this move.
This move is no easy fete for the 4’8 gymnast. As someone on social media noted, Biles, at the peak of her jump, is close to 10 feet off the mat, which is two feet higher than the high jump world record. Insanity!!
On Friday, she also made history by pulling off a double-double dismount off the balance beam.
That means she did two twists and two somersaults like its no one’s business. All of these historic firsts garnered Biles a record-tying sixth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. So who could possibly have the same title as Biles? No one in the past several decades, that’s for sure. In the 1940s and 1950s, American gymnast Clara Schroth Lomady also received the same honor of sixth all-around.
After her historical landing, Biles was quite pleased with her performance.
“That feeling when you make history…. twice,” she said on Instagram. And this is all build-up to the main event. Biles, of course, is headed to Tokyo next year for the 2020 Olympics, where’s she’s naturally going to add on to her gold medals, but no pressure. (!!!)
Her incredible routine is quite impressive when you consider that the star athlete is competing for organizers who were enablers in her own sexual abuse.
Last year, a Michigan judge sentenced Dr. Larry Nassar, a physical therapist, 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than a hundred gymnasts some were as young as six years old. The abuse lasted for decades, and Biles was one of his victims.
On August 7, Biles told reporters that it was the U.S. Gymnastics Championships and other institutions that assisted Nassar in his abuse by protecting him.
“You had one job. You literally had one job, and you couldn’t protect us,” Biles said in her addressed statement to USA Gymnastics, according to CNN. ‘It’s hard coming here for an organization, having had them fail us so many times. We had one goal. We have done everything that they asked us for, even when we didn’t want to, and they couldn’t do one damn job.”
Despite Biles’ horrific abuse she endured, her moves on the mat show her incredible strength and dedication to the sport.
The Texan native said she wasn’t sure if she’d succeed in those now-groundbreaking landings. She said, however, that she was striving for ultimate perfection, even if that meant failing the first time. Sounds like she’s a firm believer of the motto, “if at first, you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again.”
“I feel like I compete for perfection,” she told the Olympic Channel days before her competition, “so whenever I don’t do that, it really irritates me.”
Biles also told the network that she doesn’t even think about her titles and records until someone brings it up to her in conversation. Talk about humble. If Biles doesn’t do the bragging, her friends and fans will do it for her.
Several fans, including celebs, touted her magical moves on Twitter.
As for the future of gymnastics in the U.S., and their beloved athletes, Li Li Leung, the president, and chief executive of USA Gymnastics, told CNN, that understand they are to blame for their part in their abuse and are doing everything they can to change the culture of silence.
“One of our goals is for our athletes to feel comfortable in speaking up and sharing their opinions, and we are listening to what they have to say,” Leung said. “We will continue to work hard to demonstrate to Simone and all of our athletes, members, community, and fans that we are working to foster a safe, positive and encouraging environment where athlete voices are heard.”
In 2016, a group of five young athletes went to the Summer Olympics in Rio Janerio with big dreams. There, the Olympians competed to be named the best in the world in their individual and group categories. Nicknamed the “Fab Five,” the women went on to earn silver and gold medals at the international games; proving that the gymnasts were the best of the best.
That same year, Laurie Hernandez — a member of the five — also earned gold on the TV dancing show, “Dancing with the Stars.” The athlete then focused her attention on the literary world. In 2017, she published her New York Times bestselling memoir, “I Got This,” and, in 2018, released her children’s picture book, “She’s Got This.” Hernandez even has a new hosting gig on “American Ninja Warrior” to keep her busy.
It seems that with every challenge she takes on, she succeeds.
Now the gymnast has her eyes set on 2020 and her next shot at Olympic greatness.
Twitter / @LaurieHernandez
Recently, Hernandez sat down with REFINERY 29 and shared her thoughts on power. Specifically, the Olympian explained what makes her feel powerful and what she does in those occasional times when she’s left feeling a little bit powerless.
Unsurprisingly, the athlete explained that she feels most powerful when moving and active. She discussed her workouts, saying:
“Sometimes it’s just gymnastics, but sometimes it’s doing other things, too — like cycling. But just testing how my body works makes me feel most powerful.”
Hernandez went on to elaborate that — to her — power isn’t just about physical strength. The Latina believes that power also lies in having a strong spirit and mind. She added:
“Gymnastics can be more mental than physical sometimes. So throughout training, going through different tests — whether that’s competing with a lot of people or just with yourself can build your mental strength. So, just learning how to calm myself down; I think that’s pretty powerful.”
The Olympic medalist admitted that it’s her relationship with her parents that brings her back when she’s feeling less than powerful.
Twitter / @Variety
Hernandez explained that even though she and her family are living on two separate coasts, her mom and dad are still the people she goes to when she needs a pep talk. She admitted:
“The first thing I do is reach out to my family and close friends. Sometimes I feel like they know me better than I know myself. Especially my mom and dad; they’ve been supporting me since day one. I feel like they have all the answers. Right now I’m training in California and my family is in New Jersey, so there’s a lot of FaceTime going on.”
Not only do her parents help her when she’s feeling powerless, but they are also her role models when it comes to strength.
Twitter / @OKMagazine
The Latinidad is very family-oriented so we can relate to this. Hernandez doesn’t just look to her parents to revitalize her when she feels powerless. She also considers them her examples when the athlete thinks about what power looks like. After asking if she could pick her mom and dad as her power icons in the interview, Hernandez continued:
“My icons are my parents. After having to raise three kids, they’ve gone through a lot of different struggles. My siblings and I have been able to do so much in our lives because we had a really good foundation. There’s only so much your parents can give you, and yet it feels like our parents really gave us the world.”
She went on to explain that the example that her parents provided her and her siblings early on setting them up for the rest of their lives.
“I think without that foundation and without the things they taught us when we were little, we wouldn’t be where we are today. They’re so kind to other people, and that’s something that I want to follow their lead on. So, they’re my power icons.”
Hernandez ended the interview by saying that her power anthem is Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Know” and it only seems too fitting because it looks like nothing can stop the Latina athlete from achieving her dreams. We will be rooting for more gold for the gymnast in her return back to competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Share this story with all of your friends by tapping our little share buttons below!