From the Bronx to Gymnastics' Big Stage - John Orozco
posted on 10/04/2011

© John Cheng

By Alan Abrahamson - TeamUSA.org

You want to know why Americans love the Olympic dream?

It's young people like John Orozco.

John is a world-class gymnast from the Bronx. He finished third in the all-around in the 2011 U.S. national championships, behind Danell Leyva and U.S. men's team mainstay Jon Horton.

As if that alone weren't enough -- a gymnast from the Bronx, for real -- John's dad, William, worked for New York City's Department of Sanitation for 24 years; William retired because he suffered a stroke.

John's mom, Damaris, used to drive John 30 miles to a gym in Chappaqua, N.Y., about an hour each way, and it was an hour only if traffic was good. She has herself faced multiple health issues.

When you watch John compete this week at the gymnastics world championships in Tokyo, think about all it took about for him just to get there -- as well as all he proudly stands for and all he hopes yet to achieve.

"I'm on the podium, winning a medal," listening to The Star-Spangled Banner. "That's the moment I want to be in. That's the moment I see myself in -- I try to see myself in, the moment I think about every day.

"It's like I get chills and butterflies in my stomach when I think about it," John said. "It's almost like -- I don't know. It's almost embarrassing. I'm almost on the verge of tears. I guess I'm a softie."

In the lead-up to London and 2012, John is based now at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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