Gymnast Danell Leyva just won two silver medals for Team USA — and he wasn’t even supposed to compete in Rio.
Despite winning bronze in the men’s all-around at the London games, Leyva was named as an alternate on the 2016 team, meaning he would only compete if a core team member suffered an injury.
And mere weeks after the Olympic team was named, that’s exactly what happened: Teammate John Orozco tore his ACL and meniscus, opening up a spot for Leyva, USA Today reports.
On Tuesday afternoon, he made the most of his second chance, snagging the silver medal in the parallel bars and high bar finals. In the span of just a few hours, he became the most decorated American male gymnast of the Rio games.
The second-place finishes signified a comeback after Leyva’s rocky start in Rio. In the men’s team final on August 8, Leyva fell off the high bar, essentially ending Team USA’s bid for the podium.
It’s safe to say he more than made up for that mistake.
“Nobody has a perfect day, but I feel like this was as close to perfect as I could possibly have done,” he told Reuters. “I’m incredibly happy.”
He also took a moment to acknowledge his injured teammate who had to sit out of the action.
“It was unfortunate the way I was named onto this team,” he said after winning his first medal. “But that’s what this medal is for — to show that I deserved to be on that team just as much as John did. And this is for him just as much as it’s for me.”
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