Talk about earning your spot!
Cuban-American gymnast Danell Leyva was the only U.S. male athlete to bring home a medal from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but when the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio came around, he didn't qualify to be on the team. Instead, the 24-year-old star gymnast was named an alternate. Then in an unfortunate plot twist, gymnast John Orozco suffered a knee injury during practice about a month ago, and that's when Leyva took his place in the five-man squad, according to NBC.
The gymnast reclaimed his spot and won two silver medals in both horizontal and high bars.
"Things didn't happen the way I expected, and it was unfortunate the way I was named onto this team," Leyva said. "But that's what this medal is for—to show that I deserved to be on that team just as much as John did. And this is for him just as much as it's for me."
But there is more to know about this model Olympian and his life on and off the mat.
2. His Heart Is Taken: After winning at Rio, the athlete wished his girlfriend a happy anniversary in a post of their photo saying, "To my beautiful, wonderful, graceful, confidant, inspiration, motivation, my best friend... My girlfriend @giulipino I love you... Happy 11." And guess what? She's also a gymnast that will be heading to UCLA this year, according to her Instagram account.
3. His Coach Is Very Expressive: Leyva's instructor and stepfather Yin Alvarez is known for his passionate reactions at his stepson's competitions. NBC noted that Alvarez screamed and ran around jumping after both the Olympian's performances.
"No matter what I do Yin is always more excited," Leyva said.
4. Leyva's Biggest Inspiration Is a Fellow Teammate: Yes, star gymnast Simone Biles is his Olympic inspiration.
"She's a role model to me," Leyva said of Biles. "It's an inspiration to watch her do her gymnastics the way she does."
5. It Runs in the Family: "Both my parents were gymnasts in Cuba, and competed for the national team for quite a while," Leyva said. "My dad is actually my coach so as you can imagine he was quite influential in my career. My mom is also so a coach, so she adds her input whenever it's needed."