Prior to competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics, the U.S. men’s gymnastics team suggested they compete shirtless and show of their ripped bodies to gain new fans and increase viewership for their events. And while they ultimately had to keep their tight uniforms on during the official team competition, at least one member has taken it off!
Two time silver medalist Danell Leyva went rogue and stripped down during a Rio routine – much to the delight of fans watching.
The striptease to shirtlessness happened at the non-competitive gymnastics gala Thursday night. After a trio of consecutive diomidovs on the parallel bars, the 24-year-old looked to the crowd for applause before rolling down his leotard to just below the waist.
The Cuban American athlete appeared to prove the men’s gymnastics team’s point, getting massive cheers from the crowd. “This was not part of his Olympic routine,” the NBC commentator quickly said, as Leyva swung around and finished the rest of his bare-chested routine.
It appeared Leyva started a trend, too. Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev followed his lead, removing his shirt during his high-flying routine at the gala later on.
Of course, this is the only time in Rio that Verniaiev synched up with Leyva. Earlier in the games, Verniaiev beat him for the gold on the parallel bars.
Leyva did just fine with his two silver wins on Tuesday – one for the men’s parallel bar final and another for the horizontal bar final. He previously won bronze in the 2012 London Olympic individual all-around competition.
The double victory in Rio was especially sweet for Leyva, who originally made the 2016 men’s Olympic team as an alternate. When frontrunner John Orozco was forced to withdraw from the Games due to an ACL injury, Leyva stepped in to fill his spot.
The U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Team were less successful in Rio during Monday’s all-around team final, failing to medal.
According to the NBC announcers, Leyva plans to retire from gymnastics and move to Los Angeles to become an actor. With abs like that, he’s already got a leg up.