Danell Leyva

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Danell Leyva
— Gymnast —
Full name Danell Johan Leyva
Country represented  United States
Born (1991-10-30) October 30, 1991 (age 24)
Matanzas, Cuba
Residence Miami, Florida
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Discipline Men's artistic gymnastics
Level International Elite
Years on national team 2004 – present
Club Universal Gymnastics
Head coach(es) Yin Alvarez

Danell Johan Leyva (born October 30, 1991) is a Cuban-American gymnast. He is the 2011 U.S national all-around gold medalist and the 2011 world champion on the parallel bars. He is also a Bronze Medal winner in the 2012 London Olympics in the Men's All Around.

He is a specialist on parallel Bars and Horizontal Bar, having his own signature move (jam-dislocate-hop to undergrips) on the latter.

Personal life[edit]

He has a sister, Dayanis Mesa, who is a television host.[1] His stepfather and coach, Yin Alvarez (famous for his sideline theatrics during Danell's routines) and mother, Maria Gonzalez (his biological father, Johann Leyva, lives in Spain), were both members of Cuba's national gymnastics team. Gonzalez and Leyva defected to Miami when Leyva was a year old.[2] Alvarez defected by swimming across the Rio Grande to the United States while his team was competing in Mexico. Together, Alvarez and Gonzalez opened a gym in Miami several years later, and they married in 2001.[3]

Junior career[edit]

Leyva competed at his first Winter Cup in 2006. He went on to compete in the Junior Division of the US National Championships (known as the Visa Championships) where he came 1st All-Around and won Gold on Floor Exercise and Horizontal Bar, and tied for silver on Parallel Bars.

In 2008, at the Junior National Championships, Leyva won the all-around, high bar, parallel bars, and pommel horse titles. Leyva was also the High Bar champion at the 2008 Pan American Gymnastics Championships in Argentina. He went on to be chosen as one of the Juniors to be part of the 2008 Pacific Rim Championship team and competed in San Jose. There the US team won gold, won gold in All-Around and Bronze on Parallel Bars in the Junior Division finals.

Senior career[edit]

In 2009, he became the youngest member of the U.S. national Senior team at age 17, and won the gold medal on the horizontal bar and the silver medal on the parallel bars. He was chosen as one of 4 US male gymnasts to compete at the 2009 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in London. He qualified to the Horizontal Bar final where he placed 4th.


After winning medals on his two best events (Horizontal Bar and Parallel Bars) at the Winter Cup he was selected for the men's team to compete at the Pacific Rim Championships in Melbourne. He won individual titles on Horizontal Bar and Parallel Bars, as well as a Bronze medal on Still Rings. He also qualified to All-Around and Pommel Horse finals where he placed 7th in both events. In the summer he once again competed at the Visa Championships where he became the U.S. gold medalist on the parallel bars and the all-around silver medalist. He was chosen for the team to compete at the 2010 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. In Rotterdam he contributed to the team's 4th-place finish and also qualified to the Horizontal Bar final where he placed in 5th.


At the Visa Championships in Saint Paul, Danell beat reigning National Champion and World Bronze medalist Jonathan Horton in the All-Around, winning his first All-Around US National Championship at the Senior Level. He also won the Parallel Bars and Horizontal Bar titles. He was subsequently chosen to be one of the anchors for the USA team who went on to win Bronze at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo. This was the first time the Men's team had won medals at Worlds since 2003. He qualified to the All-Around final, however a mistake which caused him to crash his chin into the bar in his last rotation on the Horizontal Bar left him unable to complete his routine scoring only 6.466 and resulted in a 24th-place finish.[4] He rallied for event finals, where he won Gold on Parallel Bars.


Leyva won medals on several events at the Winter Cup, then winning 1st place at the American FIG World Cup (American Cup) in New York City. Leyva came 2nd in All-Around at the US Visa National Championships in Saint Louis, behind John Orozco. He defended his National titles on Parallel Bars and Horizontal Bar. He went on to compete in the Olympic Trials in San Jose where he came first with his combined scores from Visa Championships and the 2 days of trials. This secured him an automatic berth onto the US Olympic Team with Orozco who finished behind him in second place overall. The next day the official selection for the team was announced that Leyva and Orozco would be joined in London by US teammates Jonathan Horton, Sam Mikulak and Jake Dalton with their 2011 Worlds teammates Alex Naddour, Steven Legendre and Chris Brooks as alternates. Leyva earned the bronze medal in the Individual All-Around at the Olympics in London.


He was added as a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team on July 15, 2016 following the withdrawal of John Orozco due to an ACL injury.[5]


In 2013, Danell signed a multi-year sponsorship agreement with adidas gymnastics.[6] Fellow US Olympic Team members Jake Dalton, McKayla Maroney and Jordyn Wieber are also sponsored by adidas gymnastics.


  1. ^ USA Gymnastics Profile: Danell Leyva https://usagym.org/pages/athletes/athleteListDetail.html?id=323586
  2. ^ ROBERTSON, LINDA (October 16, 2009). "Cuban gymnast is raising the bar on the competition". Miami Herald. Retrieved October 31, 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ Sports Illustrated, Brian Cazeneuve, Unique stories of Leyva, Orozco lead men's U.S. gymastics team http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/olympics/2012/writers/brian_cazeneuve/06/30/mens.trials/index.html June 30, 2012
  4. ^ USA Gymnastics 'Orozco finishes fifth at 2011 World Championships'https://usagym.org/pages/post.html?PostID=8872&prog=h Oct 14, 2011
  5. ^ "USA Gymnastics Announces Lyeva will replace Orozco in Rio". USAGymnastics. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  6. ^ adidas Gymnastics adds Danell Leyva to roster! http://news.theelegantsports.com/2013/04/danell-is-all-in.html

External links[edit]