The Norman Transcript

July 2, 2012

Five Sooners London bound

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — When the men’s U.S. Olympic Trials ended Saturday, Oklahoma had a great shot at being represented by two athletes. On a team of five starters and three alternates, no program could really ask for more.

However, when the men’s gymnastics committee announced who would be joining Danell Leyva and John Orozco, the top two overall gymnasts, the Sooners got a surprise. All five of the OU gymnasts competing at the trials were selected by the committee Sunday to represent the squad in the 2012 Olympic Games in London later this month.

Jonathan Horton (2005-08) and junior Jake Dalton were named to the five-man squad, while Chris Brooks (2006-09), Steven Legendre (2008-11) and Alex Naddour (2010-11) will be alternates.

“I think it’s pretty incredible that we are talking about a select group of eight athletes and five of them are from the University of Oklahoma program,” OU coach Mark Williams said.

Williams coached each of the five gymnasts and also will be making the trip to London as an assistant coach. It will be his fourth Olympics.

Making a second appearance is Horton, who helped lead the national team to a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Games. He also earned a silver medal on the high bar.

Dalton is the only one of the five who is still currently on the OU team. He’s coming off a year in which he was the best collegiate gymnast in the country. Now he’s looking to help his country win gold. This will be his first trip to the Olympics.

Brooks, Legendre and Naddour were also on the 2011 World Championship Team with Horton and Dalton, and all three are making their first appearance on the Olympic squad. Sam Mikulak rounded out the fifth spot.

“It’s a dream come true for me as a coach to see their lifetime goals come to fruition and see them compete in the sport at the highest level,” Williams said. “It’s pretty surreal to be in that room, to have Guard (Young), Tom Meadows and all those guys, and hear the news. The guys really worked hard for this accomplishment. We are all excited going forward to compete for some medals in London.”

Michael Kinney 366-3537 mkinney@normantranscript.com