An emotional John Orozco was named on the United States Olympic men’s gymnastics team on Saturday after a difficult 17-month period in which he experienced the unexpected death of his mother and suffered a torn Achilles tendon.
The five-member selection committee picked Orozco, Chris Brooks, Jacob Dalton, Sam Mikulak and Alex Naddour from their performances at the Olympic trials in St Louis on Thursday and Saturday and the national championships earlier this month.
Repeating their results from the U.S. championships, four-time national champion Mikulak (362.750), Brooks (358.075) and Dalton (356.525) claimed the top three places once again in the overall competition in St Louis.
The 23-year-old Orozco competed in four of the six events at the trials for the Aug. 5-21 Rio Olympics and finished second behind Brooks in the horizontal bar.
“I was the last name they called,” Orozco said. “I thought I was going to stop breathing.”
In June 2015, Orozco tore his right Achilles tendon for the second time in six years and the initial prognosis was he would be sidelined for 12 months.
His life had already been thrown into turmoil following the sudden death of his mother Damaris in Feb. 2015, considered by Orozco as his number one fan and ‘best friend’.
“My Mom has been there the whole time and I know she was looking down on me, and she’s so proud,” said Orozco, who returned to competition in January.
The Rio Games will be the second Olympics for Orozco, who was part of an American team that finished fifth in the men’s all-around competition in London four years ago.
Orozco came eighth in the individual all-around event.
Brooks will be making his Olympic debut at 29.