USA men’s medal winner Leyva says he was “emulating” Biles’ persona

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United States gymnast Danell Leyva was motivated by a little sparkplug five years younger than him.

Leyva, 24, snared a pair of silver medals in individual events in Rio, and told NBC Miami that he took a lot from the thrilling Olympics of 19-year-old Simone Biles.

Biles, of course, captivated the nation with her remarkable run in Brazil. And she also captivated her teammates on the men’s side.


“I was just trying to emulate her persona and the way she approaches her events,” Leyva told NBC 6. “You can tell that she’s enjoying herself out there and that’s what I was trying to do.”

“It really has helped.”

It’s refreshing to hear such honesty, especially across what’s oft-considered a gender divide. Perhaps his relaxed persona was the difference from USA’s ultra intense men’s team competition.