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You Asked, Danell Answered

By Brandon Penny | March 01, 2013, 2 p.m. (ET)

Danell Leyva celebrates after his final rotation during the men's individual all-around final at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Aug. 1, 2012.

At age 21, Danell Leyva is one of the brightest young stars in men’s gymnastics. The Miami native was the only U.S. man to win a gymnastics medal at last summer’s London Olympic Games, taking the all-around bronze medal, and in 2011 he won the world championship on parallel bars.

Before Leyva sets out to defend his all-around title at the AT&T American Cup on Saturday in Worcester, Mass. (NBC 1-3 p.m. ET), he took a few minutes to answer some questions from Team USA fans on Twitter and Google+.

@Dmoceanu (1996 Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu) on Twitter asks: What is your detailed strategy this Olympic cycle to surpass 2012 Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura?

I actually read that one on Twitter! I don’t know. I can’t tell you the exact strategy. I’m not the one who does the strategy; it’s usually (my coach and stepfather Yin Alvarez’s) department. I just do the gymnastics part of it. Do what Yin says, I guess that’s the strategy.

@mckalyjogabky_ on Twitter asks: Who has been your biggest inspiration in life?

Wow, that’s a big one. I can’t pick one. Definitely Blaine Wilson, Alexei Nemov, John Roethlisberger, John Macready. Even people that I compete with now — Jon Horton; Chris Brooks is a huge inspiration. We just feed off of each other and it’s great to be able to meet those people that you got inspired by, like Paul Hamm. He was a huge inspiration for everyone and just last week he was helping me out on some stuff. When it was happening, I was like, ‘Oh it’s cool, he’s helping me out,’ but when you think about it, it’s like, ‘Oh my, that’s Paul Hamm! That’s crazy.’

@Heather_Weiss on Twitter asks: What made you want to become an Olympic athlete and how awesome is it to be one?

Since I started, I always wanted to be an Olympic champion. When I was younger, Yin would ask, ‘Who do you want to be like when you grow up?’ and I would say, ‘I want to be like myself. I want to be different and be Olympic champion.’  … It is incredible to know I’m an Olympic athlete. It still doesn’t really sink in when somebody’s like, ‘You’re an Olympic athlete.’ It’s like, ‘No, that’s not me, that’s the other guy.’

@uswntgymfan on Twitter asks: What song do you listen to when you want to pump yourself up?

There are so many. It depends on your mood. Whatever mood you’re in, there’s a certain genre that’s going to get you in good condition to do whatever you want to do. Right now, I’m really into dubstep because it’s a mix of two genres: electronic and hip-hop.

Esther L. on Google+ asks: How do you feel about people giving up their dreams of being a gymnast?

It’s sad. It’s always going to be sad to see anyone quit their dreams, not only in gymnastics. That’s why I can’t be that person that gives up. I need to always go forward and show people that it’s possible, it’s not a dream to think of something.

Necrosage Z. on Google+ asks: How would you feel if gymnastics was removed from the Olympic program?

That would be a very bad choice — not because of me, because the world in general would be very upset. Especially after the Games, a lot of people have told me they only watched the Olympics for a couple of sports and gymnastics is one of them. I think they would lose a lot of viewers.

Hayes T. on Google+ asks: How do you feel about the fact that most colleges don’t have men’s gymnastics?

That sucks, honestly, because there are a lot of people who want to go to college. As a matter of fact there’s a school in Miami, a huge college in Miami that’s very, very good and it doesn’t have gymnastics. That sucks because it would have been a perfect decision for me. The reason why I didn’t leave for college is because I wanted to stay with my coach and I wanted to stay at home. Can you imagine staying at home but also being able to compete for college? It would’ve been great.

TeamUSA.org asks: What would you fans be surprised to learn about you?

I’m allergic to every single type of seafood. My stomach doesn’t agree with it. It’s like, ‘No, I don’t want it.’

Follow Danell Leyva on Twitter (at)DanellJLeyva.

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Danell Leyva