Dennis Hayden (gymnast)

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Dennis Hayden, twin brother of Dan Hayden, was a highly touted American gymnast of the 1980s who failed to make the Olympics.


Born in 1965 in Buffalo, New York, Dennis was the older of two twins. Along with his brother, Dan, the two were highly touted juniors and members of the Junior National Team for six years from 1977 to 1983. In 1979, Dennis won gold in the all-around, still rings, vault, and high bar at the Junior Olympics within the 12 to 14 year old group. As 14 year olds, the brothers moved to Arizona away from family to train for the 1984 Olympics. They did not make it.

College career[edit]

From 1984 to 1986, the brothers competed at Arizona State. In 1985, Dennis suffered tore his anterior cruciate ligagement. He elected to continue training while wearing a knee brace rather than having reconstructive surgery. In 1986, Dennis was a member of the national championship team. The two brothers were the final routines for Arizona State (on the high bar) and Dennis scored a 9.8 while Dan scored a 9.9. The scores just barely edged favorite Nebraska out of first place. In 1986, Dan also achieved an individual all-American. The two brothers departed school after two years to concentrate on the 1988 Olympics.

Senior Elite career[edit]

A member of the Senior National Team for five years, Dennis won the silver in the all-around at U.S. Nationals in 1986. He was named to the 1986 (first) Goodwill Games team. In late 1987, Dennis suffered severe foot injury. However, he continued training. His showing at US Nationals was good enough to promote him to the 1988 Olympic Trials. The night before the final day of Trials, Dennis was in sixth, the last spot on the Olympic Team. However, that day he fell to 11th and missed the Games. His brother, Dan, an even stronger favorite to make the team, fell from 2nd to 8th with multiple falls on his last apparatus of the competition (high bar) and he also missed the Olympics.

Post athletic career[edit]

In 1988, the two Hayden brothers were only 22 and capable of still competing. However the lack of financial sponsorship caused them to move on. The year after they had pled their case for support to USA Gymnastics, the federation began supporting National Team members.

Dennis worked as a coach for several years after leaving competition. He and his brother co-own a gym in Augusta Georgia.