John Orozco, a 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnast who left the sport after tearing an ACL three weeks before the Rio Games, is returning as a Puerto Rican.
Orozco’s nationality switch was approved by the International Gymnastics Federation, it announced on Monday. Orozco’s parents were born in Puerto Rico before immigrating to the Bronx.
“I have the goal of just being able to represent the place that my family’s from,” Orozco said, according to the Olympic Channel. “I never got to do that, and I feel more connected to my community and the people that represent me.”
Orozco, 27, could attempt to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics at the Pan American Championships in May in Utah, where two individual spots are available per gender.
“It is in the back of my head,” Orozco said, according to Olympic Channel. “I have to really take my time and take it slow coming back.”
Orozco had moved on from a decorated gymnastics career to pursue the entertainment industry in Southern California.
He qualified for two Olympics, won a U.S. all-around title and earned three world championships bronze medals. This during a career in which he suffered two torn right Achilles and two torn left ACLs before the age of 24.
“I’m very, very grateful for the career that I’ve had,” he said in 2017.
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