Danell Leyva‘s stepfather and coach, the excitable Yin Alvarez, was none too pleased that his son was not chosen for the five-man Olympic team Saturday night.
“We don’t know the reason, and we’re a little sad, but they are making a big mistake,” Alvarez said, according to the Miami Herald. “Dani is obviously the only guy who can bring them a medal under pressure. Without him, how are they going to win a team or all-around medal?”
Leyva was the only man competing at the Olympic Trials who owned an Olympic medal, a bronze from the London 2012 all-around.
He was also the only man with a world championships gold medal, from the parallel bars in 2011.
But Leyva struggled mightily at the P&G Championships in Hartford three weeks before Trials, a meet that could weigh just as heavily as Trials in the selection committee’s decision-making process. He placed 16th in the all-around there before improving at Trials to finish 10th overall.
“Danell did his job here [at Trials]; the problem for him was how he did in Hartford,” U.S. men’s gymnastics program vice president Dennis McIntyre said, according to the report.
Leyva competed at P&Gs with his left leg wrapped, about one month after one of his family’s American bulldogs bit him three times.
Leyva’s all-around finish wasn’t as crucial as his performance versus other Americans on his best events — parallel bars and high bar. Chris Brooks, an alternate for the 2012 Olympic team, topped the standings on both to make his first Olympic team at age 29.
“It’s something we have to accept in this sport,” Alvarez said, according to the report. “We wish the best for our team. I told Dani he’s already a world champion and Olympic medalist.”Follow @nzaccardi