The Power of the Towel with Danell Leyva
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If you’ve watched coverage of gymnastics on TV the last couple of years, you’ve likely seen defending U.S. Champ Danell Leyva walking around the arena or sitting in a chair with a towel draped over his head and/or shoulders. It’s his same lucky towel meet after meet – and yes, he does wash it! So how did this particular towel earn its lucky status? Leyva talked about his good luck charm during podium training yesterday.
“The story is that I just needed a towel to just keep around with me to wipe the sweat off,” Leyva laughs. “But one of my aunts went out to buy a towel and the other one went to her house to get a towel and they both brought back the exact same towel! It was ridiculous. I had two for a while, and I would switch them off, but the other one ripped. It’s like my lucky towel. I started using it in 2007, and I’ve had it with me since. Yes, I wash it. It’s not nasty (laughs).”
Leyva will be putting some luck – but mainly skill – to the test tonight during the prelim round of the 2012 VISA Championships, where he’ll begin his quest for a spot on the 2012 Olympic Team. “[In] the last couple of months, it hits me every day,” Leyva says of the Olympic quest. “I’m like, ‘Oh dang. Oookay, that’s scary. It’s this year. Let’s do it. Let’s do it.’ Literally being here and reading that 2012 Visa Championships is like, ‘Okay. Whew.’ It’s great. I mean I love it. I’m so anxious for everything to happen already. But at the same time I don’t want it to pass, so I’m just living inside the moment.”
Leyva says a key to success this year is keeping nerves in check. “That’s THE question,” he says. “Literally, once you figure out how to do that, you become whatever you want to become. For me personally, I’m the kind of guy that gets distracted too easily, so that towel that I carry around helps me stay focused and stay in the zone but at the same time stay relaxed and not think about things too much.”
Leyva’s picture-perfect gymnastics, and that towel, of course, will be on display at 6:30 CST tonight in this first stop on the road to Trials.