Leyva captures first U.S. all-around title at the 2011 Visa Championships
posted on 08/19/2011

© Scott Einius

SAINT PAUL, Minn., Aug. 19, 2011 – Danell Leyva of Homestead, Fla./Team Hilton HHonors, captured the senior men's all-around title tonight at the 2011 Visa Championships inside the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn. Leyva wowed the crowd on the horizontal bar in the last rotation to claim the title with a two-day combined all-around total of 183.800. Tomorrow, Aug. 20, marks the final day of the 2011 Visa Championships with the crowning of both the junior and senior women's and rhythmic gymnastics champions.

Leyva, who trains at Universal Gymnastics with stepfather and coach Yin Alvarez, led the entire evening but secured the title with a 16.250 on the high bar. After nearly sticking his double twisting double layout dismount, Leyva embraced Alvarez, lifting him off the ground in celebration.

"It feels great – amazing," Leyva said minutes after claiming his first U.S. national title. "To fulfill one of the goals you put on paper, to be able to scratch one of those off the list, it is an amazing feeling."

Leyva started the competition on the floor exercise, where he mounted with an impressive double twisting double layout, earning a score of 15.150. He recorded scores of 14.400 and 14.200 on the pommel horse and still rings, respectively. On the vault, his Kasamatsu one-and-a-half gave him 15.350 on the event. In the fifth rotation, Leyva executed an extremely intricate parallel bars routine, performing a peach to Diamidov and earning a 15.950 on the event.

Photos by John Cheng and Scott Einuis

Two-time defending champion Jonathan Horton of Houston/Team Hilton HHonors, pushed Leyva the entire competition. However, a fall in the fifth rotation on his strongest event, the high bar, made it impossible to catch Leyva, who suffered no major mistakes during either night's competition.

"I made mistakes," Horton admitted. "It's hard to beat someone who didn't make mistakes. I think Danell and I make a great team on the international stage. We'll show people that we're ready to challenge the very best."

Horton competed a handspring double front half out on vault for just the second time in his career, giving him his highest score of the evening with a 16.700. In the final rotation, Horton stuck his double twisting double back tuck on the floor exercise, receiving a 15.550 and completing his 181.050 point two-day all-around effort.

Competing in his first Visa Championships as a senior, John Orozco of Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Olympic Training Center, claimed the bronze medal in the all-around competition with a 180.500 total. The stylish competitor earned his highest score of the competition on the parallel bars, performing a giant Suarez and Stutz to double pike dismount for a 15.850.

Jacob Dalton of Norman, Okla./University of Oklahoma, won the floor exercise national title. His difficult routine, which included a stuck Arabian double layout, earned him a 16.350, giving him a 32.450 two-day total. Dalton also captured the vault gold medal, nearly duplicating his Kasamatsu double twist from the first day of competition. With his 16.850 score from tonight's competition, Dalton topped the vault standings with a 33.650 total.

On the pommel horse, Alexander Naddour of Norman, Okla./University of Oklahama, swung smoothly through a tricky single pommel Russian, for a 15.700 and a two-day total of 31.100 on the event.

Brandon Wynn of Columbus, Ohio/Team Hilton HHonors, displayed his trademark perfect strength positions to claim the still rings title for the second consecutive year with a 31.300 total score, behind a 15.550 effort in tonight's competition.

In addition to the all-around win, Leyva topped the standings on the parallel bars and high bar, recording 32.150 and 33.150 totals, respectively.

Live, prime-time coverage of the final day of the women's competition begins on NBC Sports at 8 p.m. Eastern tomorrow evening, Aug. 20. NBC Sports will broadcast the action from the men's competition at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21.

Women's gymnastics at Xcel Energy Center and rhythmic gymnastics at Roy Wilkins Auditorium wrap up on Aug. 20. Tickets may be purchased at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by phone at 800-745-3000, and online at www.ticketmaster.com. In recognition of Visa's sponsorship, USA Gymnastics is proud to accept only Visa at the 2011 Visa Championships, along with cash. For ticket and event information, go to www.usagym.org/visa.

The 2011 Visa Championships, USA Gymnastics' national championships, features the country's best gymnasts vying for national titles and spots on the U.S. National Team in men's, women's and rhythmic gymnastics. Men's and women's gymnastics will be held at Xcel Energy Center, Aug. 17-20, and rhythmic gymnastics will be at Roy Wilkins Auditorium Aug. 19-20. Tickets for the four-day event are on sale now, with individual session tickets, as well as multi- and all-session ticket packages. Tickets may be purchased at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by phone at 800-745-3000, and online at www.ticketmaster.com. In recognition of Visa's sponsorship, USA Gymnastics is proud to accept only Visa at the 2011 Visa Championships, along with cash. For ticket and event information, go to www.usagym.org/visa.

Television and webcast coverage

  • Universal Sports. Universal Sports television will broadcast the men's and women's senior competitions live on Aug. 18 and 19 beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Competition in the first day of the senior women's competition will be simultaneously webcast on UniversalSports.com, while the final day of both the men's and women's championship will be available for on-demand streaming following the television broadcast. To find a Universal Sports channel in a specific area, click here.
  • NBC Sports. Live, prime-time coverage of the final day of the senior women's competition on NBC Sports begins at 8 p.m. ET on Aug. 20. Action from the men's competition will air on NBC Sports beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 21.
  • "Around the Gym." "Around the Gym," which provides commentary, recaps and interviews, will air on Universal Sports half an hour before and immediately following the Universal Sports telecasts on Aug. 18 and 19, as well as after the conclusion of the NBC Sports broadcast on Aug. 20. 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin and three-time Olympic team member John Roethlisberger serve as hosts for the show.

Ways to follow

    Online. The 2011 Visa Championships and its ancillary activities are easier than ever to follow online. Schedules and general information for both fan activities and the competition, including the official event program, start lists, live scoring and more are available at www.usagym.org/visa, which is easily viewable on smart phones and other digital devices. The increased information online is just part of the overall effort to make the 2011 Visa Championships the "greenest" to date.
  • Social Media. USA Gymnastics are connecting with fans on Facebook (facebook.com/USAGymnastics) and Twitter (@USAGym), providing live updates and exclusive content including videos and photos from the Visa Championships. Gymnastics fans can follow the action easily on Twitter by using the official hashtag of the 2011 Visa Championships, #visachamps.
  • Fan Activities. USA Gymnastics will be hosting a wide-range of fan activities at Saint Paul's Rice Park, adjacent to the Xcel Energy Center and Roy Wilkins Auditorium including 6:30 a.m. morning fitness, lunchtime gymnastics demonstrations and Painting in the Park presented by Art of the Olympians. Fans can also gather for fun between the women's gymnastics sessions on Aug. 20 and post-competition Aug. 19-20 in Rice Park for the Visa Fan Fest to enjoy interviews, food, music and celebrate the Visa Championships.

Background information

  • USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show. The USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show is held in conjunction with the Visa Championships and will be conducted next door at Saint Paul RiverCentre. The USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show is the annual gathering of professional members that offers educational and business sessions, a large exhibitor's hall and other business and educational opportunities.
  • Xcel Energy Center. Regarded as one of the finest arenas in the world, Xcel Energy Center is home to the NHL's Minnesota Wild, the NLL's Minnesota Swarm and a multitude of premier sports and entertainment events annually. The one-of-a-kind, multi-purpose facility is located in the heart of downtown Saint Paul, owned by the City of Saint Paul and managed by Saint Paul Arena Company, an affiliate of Minnesota Sports & Entertainment.
  • Saint Paul RiverCentre. Saint Paul RiverCentre is the city's premier convention center that overlooks the bluffs of the Mississippi River. Featuring more than 250,000 square feet of versatile event space and flexible room configurations that include the Grand Ballroom and The Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Saint Paul RiverCentre is the preferred choice for hundreds of events each year including star-studded galas, trade shows and conventions.
  • Visit Saint Paul. The mission of Visit Saint Paul is to generate economic growth for Saint Paul by effectively marketing the RiverCentre campus, Saint Paul and the region as a preferred convention and tourism destination.