When gymnast Danell Leyva’s mother fled Cuba with her two children — including baby Danell — 19 years ago, the family was hoping to find a better life in the United States.
It was a big and risky step for a family to make, but it has worked out well and may have influenced Leyva’s approach to his sport. “I definitely like living on the edge of danger,” he said in an interview with gymnastics391.blogspot. “Going onto the high bar is a huge, huge adrenaline rush.” At the 2012 American Cup, Leyva unleashed a series of four daring release moves on the high bar, flinging himself into the air and then, in a manner that looked almost casual, grabbing the bar on his way down.
Leyva, now 20, won the 2012 American Cup Championships in men’s gymnastics and is a top prospect to represent the United States at the 2012 London Olympics. Coached by his mother and stepfather, Leyva is also the 2011 world champion on the parallel bars.
“Being able to compete for the U.S. is a great privilege and a great honor,” he told the blog. “It’s the best feeling I’ve ever felt.”