U.S. & World
After Danell Leyva’s first gymnastics lesson at 3 years old, his coach told his mother, “Please, don’t bring him back.” Luckily a family friend, Yin Alvarez, saw Leyva’s potential, and soon Alvarez became Leyva’s stepfather as well as longtime coach. Alvarez was by Leyva’s side at the 2012 London Olympics, where Leyva won the U.S. men’s Olympic gymnastics team’s only medal of the competition. His shot at the all-around podium seemed to be gone when he made a mistake on pommel horse and fell to 19th place after two rotations in the final. But with his stepfather cheering him on in his distinctively effusive way, Leyva posted the night’s highest scores on parallel bars and horizontal bar to win an Olympic bronze medal. He also finished fifth in the high bar final and with the U.S. in the team event. Leyva has kept up his winning ways at the gymnastics world championships, winning a silver on parallel bars and team bronze in 2014, and a silver on horizontal bar in 2015. Before the London Olympics, he won the world title on parallel bars and another team bronze at the 2011 World Championships.