Danell Leyva: Miami Olympian Poised To Hit It Big
Danell Leyva plans to do a lot more than just win gold at the 2012 London Olympics.
The high-flying U.S. gymnast, known for crowd-pleasing routines, hopes to one day share his drawing, musical, comedic, acting or culinary gifts as well, Lee News Network reported.
“My goal is to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony,” Danell Leyva said in June during the USA Gymnastics Championships at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.
While the elusive EGOT has only been won by 14 people, Leyva’s chances at winning gold in London are much better. The 20-year-old gymnast is considered a serious contender for multiple medals, especially the parallel bars where he is already the defending world champion and the all-around.
For Danell Leyva, gymnastics is as much about performing as it is about competition.
“Gymnastics, especially what we’re doing, is called ‘artistic gymnastics’ for a reason; it’s an art form,” Leyva told Lee News Network. “Yeah, you do it for the judges, and you try to do it to beat this guy, beat that guy. But at the end of the day, you’re just performing on a stage for the crowd.”
His skills have the U.S. team in serious contention to win its first team gold medal since 1984, the report noted.
Though he’s a budding star now, gymnastics didn’t always come so easily for Leyva. In fact, he was so heavy and clumsy in his earlier years that he “legitimately, literally, could not jump,” Leyva told Lee News Network.
But his parents–both gymnasts at the National School of Gymnastics in Havana before defecting–didn’t push Leyva into the sport.
“My mom didn’t want me to be a gymnast for so many reasons: My arms were too long, my butt was too big, my feet were too flat,” Leyva told Lee News Network, “and I obviously didn’t pay attention.”
As he stuck with it, Danell Leyva started to pick up the sport. His coach and step-father brought gymnastics videos to the apartment, hooking the four-year-old Leyva in the sport.
“I don’t know what that is, but I want to do that,” Leyva recalled to Lee News Network
Danell Leyva is the perfect competitor for his event. His aerial skills and flash for the dramatic gives him the ability to bring audiences to their feet, the Sun-Sentinel notes.
“You’re really doing it for the crowd,” Leyva, who begins competition on Saturday, told the Sun-Sentinel.
The cheers came pouring in last month at Olympic trials, when Leyva performed a flawless bar routine to earn his ticket to London.
Leyva generates his power from a body not typical of gymnasts. At 5-feet-7 inches his is taller than most gymnasts, and his wingspan is longer as well, the Sun-Sentinel notes. Though unconventional, his frame allows him to generate greater speed and power in his rotations, meaning more hang time and greater acrobatics, the report noted.
Outside of competition Leyva is still something of an entertainer, the Sun-Sentinel notes. At a parking lot outside an Italian restaurant, Leyva met with his agent’s nephew, a boy celebrating his fourth birthday. Making the boy put his hands on the hood of a black Chevy Camaro, Danell Leyva told the youngster to imagine turning the car on.
“You have to try harder,” Leyva told the boy. “Focus really hard.”
Hiding automatic starter in his hand, Danell Leyva pressed a button and started the car with a powerful roar, bringing Shane to smile with excitement.