Danell Leyva is an Olympic medalist, he got the Bronze medal in the all around gymnastic competition at the 2012 Olympic games in London. His medal has a big significance because it is the 2nd or 3rd ever Olympic medal for the USA in an all around Olympic gymnastic competition.
Danell represented the USA with pride, he was born in Cuba and came to this land at an early age. He emigrated with his parents to the USA and like many of us (immigrants), started a new life in this great nation. I saw an interview with his step father and coach Yin Alvarez and realized how similar their stories are to the many immigrants that come here with nothing more than the desire to take advantages of the opportunity to make a better future for themselves.
Danell’s step dad and his mom were also gymnastic athletes in Cuba; they came here and like many of us, started their life working in whatever was available. His step dad said in the interview he even washed dishes and worked odd dead end jobs to get by at the beginning. He also said he never thought of himself as been poor, he understood his was a temporary situation and was happy and grateful for the opportunity to live free.
Short after his family got settled, they took their son to a renown gymnastic trainer and after the first class Darnell was told not to come back because he “will never make it in this sport”, Darnell’s parents took this as a challenge and today the rest is history. Today they own their own gym in Miami, Florida with more than 500 students, a great immigrant story that represents the opportunities available for those who work hard, take risks and are persistent. This story is incredible similar to many other success stories where the effort and perseverance of people break any barrier .
Here are the main lessons I take from this:
1. If you are going through a difficult time in your life, write down the things you have. You are in a place where still it doesn’t matter where you come from you can reach success (however you define it).
2. Don’t let a down time define who you are, circumstances are just that and we can still learn from them. Sometimes we learn more from the bad times than from the times of abundance.
3. Don’t let other people define who you are. Everyone of us have the ability to do great things, we just need to find something we are passionate about and turn on this “button”.
4. There is no trick or fast track to success, it takes hard work. Danell trained every day since he was a little kid to get to were he is today.
5. Have pride and passion in whatever you do.
6. Be humble and grateful.
I’m sure you will find this story as inspirational as I did and I’m sure immigrant or not you may have a similar story about your own a family member or neighbor.
Information taken from this Interview (In Spanish)
More on Danell Leyva:
Family gym: http://universalgymnastics.us/