Miami Native, USA Gymnast Danell Levya Preparing For Another Olympic Appearance - NBC 6 South Florida
2016 Rio Olympic Games

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Miami Native, USA Gymnast Danell Levya Preparing For Another Olympic Appearance

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    Miami Native, USA Gymnast Danell Levya Preparing For Another Olympic Appearance
    USA Today Sports

    It's not the way he planned it.

    Three weeks ago, Danell Leyva never imagined competing at the Rio Olympics. Not after he was named an alternate for the USA Men's Gymnastics team.

    But then, his teammate and friend John Orozco tore his ACL, and Leyva went from alternate to full fledged Olympian.

    The emotional turn of events, still on Leyva's mind when we caught up with him after practice in Rio.

    "I feel like I'm here not only for myself, or for the U.S, but for him on top of that," Leyva says about Orozco. "We're like brothers. All of us."

    Leyva says Orozco made him feel comfortable about what could have been an awkward situation, when he approached him soon after the injury.

    "He was just like 'yo man, you're going to be great, just be ready,'" Leyva recalled. "I was like, 'thanks man.'"

    Leyva and his USA teammates practiced inside the the Olympic arena for the first time Wednesday. They said it was good to get a feel for the equipment and the lights there.

    For Leyva, it's his second Olympics. He won bronze in London in 2012, the only USA Men's Gymnast to bring home a medal.

    "It still feels like the first time honestly," Leyva said. "It's still crazy to believe that I'm at the Olympics. And then I remind myself, and it's like wow, I'm here again, it's even crazier."

    Leyva says he loves Brazil because it feels a lot like Miami, including familiar food.

    And even though the Cuban-American speaks Spanish (which can be helpful when communicating in Brazil), Leyva has learned some Portuguese.

    "It's hard when they speak fast, but I kind of surprise (people) when I talk," Leyva said.

    To prove it, Leyva spoke three sentences in Portuguese for our videographer from Brazil. He was impressed with the Olympian's skills.

    For the second straight Olympics Leyva will not walk in the Opening Ceremony. He and the USA Men's Gymnastics team need to rest up for competition that begins on Saturday.