US male gymnast does shirtless exhibition routine after teammate suggested it would make men's gymnastics more popular

At the start of the Rio Olympics, US male gymnast Sam Mikulak told the Wall Street Journal his theory to help men’s gymnastics become as popular as women’s.

“Maybe compete with our shirts off,” Mikulak said. “People make fun of us for wearing tights. But if they saw how yoked we are maybe that would make a difference.”

His teammate, silver-medal-winning Danell Leyva appeared to put his theory to the test at the Rio gala on Wednesday.

Before his parallel bars routine (for which he won silver) at the non-competitive, non-judged gala, Leyva appeared to grow uncomfortable with his shirt.

Then, in the middle of his routine, he motioned to the crowd to get some encouragement:

So he popped that sucker off and kept performing. Boom.

Based on the loud cheers from the crowd when he peeled off his top, it did appear to be a popular move.

With Leyva taking home two silvers, perhaps that will help popularise men’s gymnastics in the US on its own. But doing routines shirtless, as Leyva may have tested on Wednesday, might not hurt either. 

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