Meet gymnastics coach Yin Alvarez
posted on 06/22/2011

© John Cheng

By Brandon Penny -

Yin Alvarez is the enthusiastic gymnastics coach often seen jumping up and down and screaming during Danell Leyva's routines. For some spectators, he is more of the show than Leyva.

Alvarez is also Leyva's step-father. But 19-year-old Leyva is not embarrassed by the man he calls dad.

"I feel like in the beginning of my routine they're watching me but after that they're watching him because everyone starts laughing," Leyva said.

"I think it's awesome. It gives me a lot of energy."

Alvarez acts the same way for all his athletes - during both competition and daily practice. So where exactly does his jovial demeanor derive from? Alvarez says all Cubans are excited people.

Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1966, Alvarez was a hyper child who had big dreams of being a performer - in the circus. Alvarez's mother did not like the circus and did not approve, so his uncle, who was then chairman of Cuba's soccer federation, suggested he try gymnastics.

Gymnastics was not a popular sport in Cuba and although the island nation has been participating in the sport at the Olympic Games since 1948, it has yet to earn a medal on the sport's largest stage.

By the age of seven, Alvarez earned a spot at Cuba's national school of gymnastics, where he lived, ate, studied and trained. As a member of the Cuban national team, Alvarez specialized on floor, rings and high bar, and competed all-round when needed.

He admits now that he was never one of the top gymnasts and sometimes gave up too easily. Alvarez said recognizing that has helped him in the long run.

Click here to read the rest of the story.