Cheerleading coach in viral splits video falsely claims to be “Olympic athlete”

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Ozell Williams, a cheerleading coach at East High School in Denver, Colo., has gained national notoriety and been placed under criminal investigation after videos were made public of him physically forcing teenage cheerleaders into the splits position while they scream in pain.

On the website for Mile High Tumblers, the 28-year-old claims to be “an Olympic athlete having won 3 Team USA First place rings in preliminary games”– but has never been a member of an Olympic team or competed at an Olympic Games.

Mile High Tumblers is a nonprofit organization for young athletes that focuses on tumbling, which is recognized as a competitive sport by the International Gymnastics Federation but is not contested at the Olympics. Cheerleading has also never been included on the Olympic program, although it could potentially join the Games in 2024. The International Olympic Committee granted it provisional status in 2016, the first step to future inclusion.

According to FOX31, the U.S. Olympic Committee confirmed that “Williams was never on any Olympic roster.” A spokesperson for USA Gymnastics added that there is “no record of him being invited to the Olympic Gymnastics Trials, let alone winning three ring titles.”

“Nobody has ever heard of him,” USA Gymnastics said.

A 2011 profile of Williams referred to him as “a member of the USA Olympic Cheer Team for 2012 in London.”

Williams was on USA Cheer’s National Coed Team, which the Tumblers’ website describes the team as “the most prestigious collegiate team in the world.” The National Coed Team has won multiple gold medals at the World Cheerleading Championships.

A group of U.S. cheerleaders performed at men’s basketball semifinal and final games at the 2012 London Olympics, and it’s possible that Williams was a member of that squad.

But that would not make him an Olympic athlete.

The video of Williams pushing a 13-year-old cheerleader deeper into a splits position while she cried and repeatedly asked him to stop went viral after it was sent to local news stations in Denver. Williams and four other staffers were suspended from the high school while both the police and school district conduct their investigations.

Williams told the Denver Post, “You can definitely say that what was in the video could be seen in a different light,” Williams said. “I would love to tell my story, but I can’t say anything else at this time.”

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