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Saturday at U.S. Olympic gym, track trials: Miami's Danell Leyva makes men's gym team; plus Tampa Bay area, other state results

Danell Leyva, who came to Miami from Cuba with his family two decades ago, competes on the rings during Day 2 of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials. He won a spot on the team.

Associated Press

Danell Leyva, who came to Miami from Cuba with his family two decades ago, competes on the rings during Day 2 of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials. He won a spot on the team.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Danell Leyva, his mother and stepfather had little besides hope and determination when they arrived in Miami from Cuba almost two decades ago.

Saturday night, Leyva stood in the center of the arena, a U.S. Olympian.

Leyva beat John Orozco to win the men's gymnastics trials with a performance that clinched him an automatic spot on the team. Orozco's finish earned him a spot on the team as well.

As Leyva walked off the competition floor after his last event, his stepfather and coach, Yin Alvarez, greeted him with a bow, and Leyva picked him up in a bear hug.

"It's big," said Alvarez, a gymnast in Cuba who defected during a gymnastics trip to Mexico in 1992. "It's big because I wanted to be an Olympian, and (Leyva) represents me and all Cuban immigrants who came to this country for a better life and to make something (of themselves)."

Leyva's mother, Maria Gonzalez, also a gymnast in Cuba, brought her son, now 20, and older daughter to the United States via Peru and Venezuela in 1993. She and Alvarez, who had been childhood friends, married in 2001 after working together in Florida. The own the Universal Gymnastics school in Miami.

Leyva, who had allergies and asthma as a tubby kid, finished almost a point ahead of Orozco after two days of competition, based on scores combined with their totals from last month's national championships.

Olympic spots were guaranteed to the top two trials finishers in the all-around if both also finished in the top three in at least three of the six events.

The remaining three team members will be chosen by a five-person selection committee. The team will be announced today.

Gymnastics has been Orozco's ticket out of the rough Bronx, N.Y., neighborhood where his mother and sanitation-worker father still live. Nicknamed the "Silent Ninja" by his teammates because of his steady demeanor, his eyes welled up with tears even before he was announced to the crowd as an Olympian.

"I'm not usually like that," Orozco, 19, said. "I looked up at my parents, and I was like, 'Look where we are now.' "

The two were second (Orozco) and third (Leyva) behind three-time world champion Kohei Uchimura of Japan in qualifying at last year's world championships and have spent the past six months playing leapfrog in U.S. meets.

Orozco beat Leyva last month at the U.S. championships, but Leyva took the lead in Thursday's first day of trials competition, and he threw down the first challenge Saturday on the high bar, their first event. Leyva's routine, packed with difficulty, earned him a score of 16.3 — scores above 16 are exceptional in the post-“perfect 10" scoring system — and opened a 1.3-point gap on Orozco.

Felix gets 200m win; 100 tiebreak awaits

EUGENE, Ore. — Allyson Felix won the women's 200 meters at the U.S. track and field trials in 21.69 seconds, a meet record and a personal best.

Felix will be joined on the Olympic team by runnerup Carmelita Jeter and third-place Sanya Richards-Ross. UCF's Aurieyall Scott finished eighth and last.

Still unresolved is the third-place tie last weekend in the 100 final between Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh for the final London berth in that race.

The runners are to decide how to break the tie, either by a runoff or a coin flip or by having one concede the spot. They wanted to wait to make a decision until after the 200 final, in which Tarmoh was fifth. They told NBC after the race they planned to discuss the matter today.

"We're going to sit down together, because it's in both of our interests," Tarmoh said.

USA Track and Field has said the situation must be resolved today, the last day of the trials, so it can officially name its Olympic team.

In the men's triple jump, former Gator Christian Taylor, the 2011 world champion, and William Claye, the reigning world indoor champion, finished 1-2 to make the team. Current Gator Omar Craddock, a two-time NCAA champion, was fourth.

Aries Merritt posted the best time in the world this year, 12.93, in winning the men's 110 hurdles. Jason Richardson, the reigning world champion, was second and Jeffrey Porter third to round out the teams. David Oliver, the bronze medalist in Beijing, finished fifth.

Not advancing out of the semis were Miami's Devon Hill and Florida All-American Eddie Lovett.

In the men's 200 semis, Florida State's Maurice Mitchell led the final qualifiers with a time of 20.43. Dedric Dukes of Florida missed a spot in the final by .006. Also not advancing was FSU's Horatio Williams.

Chaunte Lowe earned her fifth national outdoor title and a spot on the Olympic team, clearing a meet-record 6 feet, 7 inches in the women's high jump. Lowe broke the meet record of 6-61/2 set by Louise Ritter in 1988. Amy Acuff was third to make her fifth Olympic team.

Hyleas Fountain, the 2008 heptathlon silver medalist, won her fifth national title and a trip to London.

.fast facts

Trials on TV tonight

(All on Ch. 8)

Track and field, 7

Swimming, 8

Gymnastics, 9

Saturday at U.S. Olympic gym, track trials: Miami's Danell Leyva makes men's gym team; plus Tampa Bay area, other state results 06/30/12 [Last modified: Sunday, July 1, 2012 12:15am]
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