COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., – John Orozco of the Bronx, N.Y./Team Hilton, injured his left knee on a horizontal bar dismount during the men’s Olympic Team Training Camp. Orozco has been diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus, which is the same injury to that knee that happened in October 2012. As a result, Orozco has withdrawn from the team, and Danell Leyva of Miami/Team Hilton (Universal Gymnastics) has been named to the team.
This is the second time in Orozco’s career that he has suffered this specific injury, with the first coming in October 2012
In addition to battling injuries in recent years Orozco lost his mother on Valentine’s Day in 2015, which made the selection to the Olympic team that much more emotional for the Bronx native.
“It is always difficult to replace an Olympic team member,” said Kevin Mazeika, the national team coordinator for the U.S. Men’s National Team. “John’s injury is unfortunate and heartbreaking news, but he is handling the situation like the true professional and champion that he is. He’s fully supporting the team and its goals moving ahead.”
Leyva, the 2012 Olympic all-around bronze medalist, won the horizontal bar silver medal at the 2015 World Championships, his fifth World medal. Leyva’s resume this quad includes 2014 World team bronze and parallel bars silver medalist.
He won the 2011 World parallel bars title. Additionally, Leyva is a four-time U.S. parallel bars (2010-12, 2014) and three-time horizontal bar (2009, 2011-12) champion. At the recent U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Men’s Gymnastics, Leyva was second on the parallel bars and third on the high bar.
The 2012 season was a productive one for both Leyva and Orozco, beginning with the 2012 Visa Championships in St. Louis. While Orozco came back on day two of the men’s competition to win the all-around title, Leyva finished second in the all-around by a margin of just 0.05 (184.850 – 184.800).
Leyva led all competitors in the parallel bars and high bar portions of the all-around competition, but Orozco also performed well in those events (T-3rd in the parallel bars, 2nd in the high bar) and had the necessary scores in the other events to take home the title.
2012 Summer Olympics in London
While the trip to London wasn’t the best for the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Team as a whole, as they finished fifth in the team competition, Leyva didn’t return to the States empty-handed. Leyva won a bronze medal in the individual men’s all-around competition, with Japan’s Kōhei Uchimura and Germany’s Marcel Nyugen winning the gold and silver medals, respectively.
Leyva led all gymnasts in the qualifying round with a score of 91.265, with his best score coming in the high bar where he posted a score of 15.666.
In the finals Leyva posted the highest score in the high bar and tied with Uchimura for the best mark in the parallel bars, while also placing fourth in the floor routine. However Leyva was 19th out of 24 competitors in the pommel horse and 14th in the rings, marks that proved to be too much to overcome in his quest for a gold medal.
2009 Men’s Senior National Team
After a decorated career at the junior level Leyva was selected to the United States Men’s Senior National Team in 2009 at the age of 17, making him the youngest member of the team. It didn’t take Leyva much time to leave his mark either, as he tied for first in the high bar and tied for second in the parallel bars at the 2009 Visa Championships in Dallas.
Leyva would also finish fifth in the individual all-around at those championships, going on to place fourth in the high bar at both the 2009 World Cup in Montreal and the 2009 World Championships in London.
Two years later Leyva would win the parallel bars competition at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo while helping the United States finish third in the team competition.
At last year’s Artistic Gymnastic World Championships in Glasgow, Leyva finished second in the high bar and sixth in the parallel bars, with the United States placing fifth in the team competition. Leyva lists the high bar and parallel bars as two of his favorite events, with the floor exercise being another.
Born in Cuba
Leyva’s mother, Maria Gonzalez, and step-father Yin Alvarez, defected from Cuba early in Leyva’s life. Alvarez’s path to the United States is a particularly interesting one, as he defected from Cuba while performing with a circus troupe in Mexico in December 1991. Motivated by dreams of owning his own gymnastics facility and serving as a coach, Alvarez would eventually move to Miami in 1992 and by 1995 open Universal Gymnastics.
In 1993 Alvarez and Gonzalez, who had known either other since they were both seven years old, renewed acquaintances in Miami where Gonzalez had moved to from Cuba with then-one year old Leyva. The two would eventually get married in 2001.
Both Parents Were Gymnasts
Both Alvarez and Gonzalez were members of Cuba’s national gymnastics team before their respective defections from the country, and as noted above they’d known each other since they were children.
The couple run Universal Gymnastics together and both serve as coaches, with the excitable Alvarez serving as Leyva’s coach to this day. While some would be a bit distracted by Alvarez’s visible displays of emotion, that has never been the case for Leyva.
“I feel like in the beginning of my routine they’re watching me but after that they’re watching him because everyone starts laughing,” Leyva told USA Gymnastics in 2011. “I think it’s awesome. It gives me a lot of energy.”