John Orozco grew up in a rough and impoverished section of the Bronx in New York City. Born on December 30, 1992, to Puerto Rican parents who had little money, it was sheer will power and family support that led Orozco to pursue advanced gymnastics training. Training from the age of 7, Orozco's talents were finally recognized and he clinched a spot on the U.S. Men's Gymnastics team, which will perform at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The story of American gymnast John Orozco is one of sheer willpower and family support. Orozco was born in New York City, New York, on December 30, 1992, to Puerto Rican parents William and Damaris Orozco. His father was a city sanitation worker and his mother a homemaker, and together they raised Orozco and his five older siblings in a rough blue-collar section of the Bronx.
"Orozco had more than homework and gym practice to struggle," according to a July 2012 People Magazine article, "he also had to avoid fights with local lawbreakers."
Living amid crime and poverty did not prevent Orozco's father from signing his youngest up for free gymnastics lessons at the age of 7. In fact, Orozco's parents were so supportive of his pursuit of gymnastics training that they endured great discomfort to share in his experiences. According to a June 2012 USA Today article, Orozco's parents slept in their car on many trips to his meets. They didn't have enough money to stay in hotels; so instead, they took a mattress from their apartment and placed it in the back of their minivan, where Orozco would sleep. The parents slept in the front seats.
With that level of dedication, it was clear that sticking with gymnastics was the way Orozco would choose to go. He ended up training at a gym in Chappaqua, NY, where his coaches recognized he had major potential.
While finishing his high school education, Orozco trained at World Cup Gymnastics in Chappaqua. At only 15, Orozco won the Junior Visa U.S. National Championships and became the youngest male gymnast to qualify for the elite finals. He landed a spot as an alternate on the Junior National Team representing the USA in the Pan-American Games. Orozco also competed in the 2008 and 2010 Pacific Rim Championship, both times helping the team earn gold medals. At the latter, he also won individual gold medals in all-around and horizontal bars, and silver medals on pommel horse, still rings and parallel bars.
Wanting to train for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Orozco deferred plans for college in 2011 and left New York to train at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That same year he made the Senior National Team and performed at the U.S. National Visa Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota. He helped his team win a bronze medal at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo, Japan, where he also finished fifth in the all-around final.
Orozco, whose teammates call him "Silent Ninja," took part in the Winter Cup in Las Vegas in February 2012 and finished the competition in first place. He finished a disappointing fifth in the all-around at the American Cup in March, but said it was "just a hiccup" in his preparation for the Olympics, according to the New York Times.
Just a few months later, in June 2012 at the Visa Championships, Orozco won the all-around gold medal. He is considered the "unlikely darling" of the London Olympics, according to the New York Post. Orozco has risen to the top of the gymnastics world, clinching a spot on the U.S. Olympic Men's Gymnastics team. In addition to appearing on several episodes of the television series Law and Order, Orozco showcased his Olympic talents in a music video for the song "The Fighter" by the band Gym Class Heroes.
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