Danell Leyva

Danell Johan Leyva (born October 30, 1991) is a Cuban-American former gymnast who competed for the United States. He is the 2012 Olympic individual all-around bronze medalist and 2016 Olympic parallel bars and horizontal bar silver medalist. He is also the 2011 US national all-around gold medalist and the 2011 world champion on the parallel bars.

Danell Leyva
Danell Leyva (28736161771) 2 (cropped).jpg
Full nameDanell Johan Leyva
Country represented United States
Born (1991-10-30) October 30, 1991 (age 30)
Matanzas, Cuba
HometownMiami, Florida
ResidenceMiami, Florida
Height5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
DisciplineMen's artistic gymnastics
LevelInternational elite
Years on national team2004–2016 (USA)
ClubUniversal Gymnastics
Head coach(es)Yin Alvarez
Medal record
Representing  United States
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 2016 Rio de Janeiro Parallel bars
Silver medal – second place 2016 Rio de Janeiro Horizontal bar
Bronze medal – third place 2012 London All-around
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2011 Tokyo Parallel bars
Silver medal – second place 2014 Nanning Parallel bars
Silver medal – second place 2015 Glasgow Horizontal bar
Bronze medal – third place 2011 Tokyo Team
Bronze medal – third place 2014 Nanning Team
Pacific Rim Championships
Gold medal – first place 2010 Melbourne Team
Gold medal – first place 2010 Melbourne Parallel bars
Gold medal – first place 2010 Melbourne Horizontal bar
Bronze medal – third place 2010 Melbourne Rings

In gymnastics, Leyva was a specialist on parallel bars and horizontal bar, having his own signature move (jam-dislocate-hop to undergrips) on the latter.

Personal lifeEdit

Leyva in 2017

Leyva 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, were both members of Cuba's national gymnastics team.[2] Gonzalez and Leyva defected to Miami when Leyva was two years old.[2][3] Alvarez defected by swimming across the Rio Grande to the United States while his team was competing in Mexico.[2] Together, Alvarez and Gonzalez opened a gym in Miami several years later, and they married in 2001.[4] Leyva's biological father, Johan Leyva, lives in Spain.[5]

On October 11, 2020, for National Coming Out Day, Leyva revealed via Twitter that he identifies as bisexual and pansexual.[6]

Junior careerEdit

Leyva competed at his first Winter Cup in 2006. He went on to compete in the junior division of the US National Championships, where he came 1st all-around, won gold on floor exercise and horizontal bar, and tied for silver on parallel bars.[1]

In 2008, at the Junior National Championships, Leyva won the all-around, high bar, parallel bars, and pommel horse titles. He was also the horizontal bar champion at the 2008 Pan American Gymnastics Championships in Argentina. He went on to be chosen as part of the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships team and competed in San Jose, California. The US team won gold, and Leyva won gold in the all-around and bronze on parallel bars in the junior division finals.[1]

Senior careerEdit


In 2009, he became the youngest member of the US senior national team at age 17,[7] and at the National Championships won the gold medal on the horizontal bar and the silver medal on the parallel bars. He was chosen as one of four 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.[1]


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 the all-around and pommel horse finals, where he placed 7th in both events. In the summer he once again competed at the 2010 US National Championships, where he became the US 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 2011 US National Championships, Leyva 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 US team at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo, which won the bronze medal. This was the first time the US men's team had won medals at the World Championships since 2003. Leyva qualified to the all-around final, but his chin crashed into the horizontal bar in his last rotation, and he was unable to complete his routine, resulting in a 24th-place finish.[8] He rallied for event finals, where he won gold on parallel bars.


Leyva won medals on several events at the Winter Cup, then won the American Cup in New York City. He placed 2nd in the all-around at the 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 two days of Trials. This secured him an automatic berth onto the US Olympic Team with Orozco, who finished in second place overall. The next day, it was announced that Leyva and Orozco would be joined in London by 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.


Leyva, originally an alternate, was added to the 2016 US Olympic Team in July 2016, following the withdrawal of Orozco due to an ACL injury.[9] On August 6, 2016, the men's team qualified for the team final in second place.[10] Leyva qualified individually for individual event finals in both parallel bars and horizontal bar.[10] In the final, Leyva contributed scores on pommel horse, parallel bars, and high bar. He had a fall on high bar, and the team finished 5th once again.[11] On August 16, Danell won silver in the Olympic men's parallel bar final with a score of 15.900. About an hour and a half later, he won another silver in the horizontal bar final, scoring 15.500. Despite being originally named as an alternate to the team, Leyva is the only member to walk away with two medals, contributing to the US men's gymnastics team total of three medals, along with Naddour's bronze on the pommel horse.


In 2013, Leyva signed a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Adidas Gymnastics.[12] Fellow US Olympic Team members Jake Dalton, McKayla Maroney and Jordyn Wieber were also sponsored by Adidas.

Media careerEdit

After ending his career in gymnastics, Leyva began to pursue an acting and media career. Soon after the 2016 Olympics, he moved from Miami to Los Angeles to pursue this career and enrolled in acting classes.[13] By mid-2017, Leyva had already filmed two television advertisements, appeared on a Nickelodeon show, and worked as a choreography consultant on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.[13] He had also purchased a production company, which he named "Parallel Entertainment".[14]

Leyva competed on American Ninja Warrior in 2019.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b c d "USA Gymnastics Profile: Danell Leyva". Archived from the original on July 17, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Macur, Juliet (July 29, 2012). "For a Gymnastics Family, a Longtime Vision Is in Reach". Archived from the original on January 31, 2018.
  3. ^ Robertson, Linda (October 16, 2009). "Cuban gymnast is raising the bar on the competition". Miami Herald. Retrieved October 31, 2009.[dead link]
  4. ^ Cazeneuve, Brian (June 30, 2012). "Unique stories of Leyva, Orozco lead men's U.S. gymnastics team". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on March 30, 2013.
  5. ^ Alvarado, Francisco (August 2, 2012). "Danell Leyva, Miami's Olympic Prodigy, Goes for Gold". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on March 9, 2017.
  6. ^ @DanellJLeyva (October 11, 2020). "A thread for #NationalComingOutDay For a long time I've known that I wasn't straight. But because of certain very…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ "Team USA: Danell Leyva". Archived from the original on September 4, 2017.
  8. ^ USA Gymnastics 'Orozco finishes fifth at 2011 World Championships'https://usagym.org/pages/post.html?PostID=8872&prog=h October 14, 2011
  9. ^ @USAGym (July 15, 2016). "Danell Leyva will replace Orozco on the Olympic team" (Tweet). Retrieved July 15, 2016 – via Twitter.
  10. ^ a b WTHR.COM STAFF (August 6, 2016). "US men's gymnastics team headed to Olympic finals". wfla.com. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  11. ^ "U.S. takes fifth in men's Olympics gymnastics, Japan beats China for gold". USA TODAY. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  12. ^ Lee, Christina (April 2013). "adidas Gymnastics adds Danell Leyva to roster!". Archived from the original on August 9, 2015.
  13. ^ a b Zaccardi, Nick (June 28, 2017). "Danell Leyva's gymnastics streak ends as he pursues acting". OlympicTalk | NBC Sports. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  14. ^ Johnson, Rebecca (June 28, 2017). "Danell Leyva Moves On From Gymnastics, Opens Own Production Company". www.flogymnastics.com. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  15. ^ Gerstner, Joanne C. (September 5, 2019). "DANELL LEYVA'S "AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR" DEBUT WAS A VIRAL SUCCESS, BUT HE'S UNDECIDED ON NINJA FUTURE". Team USA. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  16. ^ "Danell Leyva splashes out of American Ninja Warrior after incredible save". OlympicTalk | NBC Sports. August 27, 2019. Retrieved May 23, 2021.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Danell Leyva at Wikimedia Commons