Special to The Sun
More than 100 gymnastics enthusiasts young and old packed into the Oklahoma Gold Gymnastics training center, 711 S. Kelley Ave. in Edmond, as the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Gold gym bid farewell to OU gymnasts Jacob Dalton and Steve Legendre, who will represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“It’s a sense of pride, just a big sense of pride,” Oklahoma Gold owner Steve Hoehner said. “That a sport like men’s gymnastics in a state like Oklahoma, where we have two guys that comprise almost a third of the team, it is just a sense of pride that we can do things here.”
Hoehner and OU men’s gymnastics coach Mike Williams hosted a small presentation for the two Olympians. Afterward, Dalton and Legendre signed autographs and took photos with fans.
“It’s really awesome, just the support that we’re getting from the local community,” said Legendre, a native of New York. “Both Jake and I are from pretty far away, it’s really cool just to be able to have this group thing where everyone is getting together and sending us off, it definitely makes us feel at home even if we really aren’t.”
Dalton, who will be competing in his first Olympics, enters as the 2012 U.S. floor exercise and vault champion, as well as the 2012 NCAA all-around and parallel bars champion, team and floor exercise silver medalist, and a still rings and high bar bronze medalist.
Legendre, who is one of three alternates for the Olympic team, is the 2012 U.S. silver medalist in floor exercise, as well as the 2012 Winter Cup Challenge champion in the floor exercise and vault, as well as the all-around silver medalist.
A third OU gymnast, Alex Naddour, also is an Olympic alternate.
“I was ready (to go to London) before visas, before trials,” Dalton said. “You’re so physically prepared, it’s a mental game now, just wait it out and do everything you can to make sure that you’re prepared and enjoy the process.”
Dalton and Legendre will depart for London with the team on Thursday. The 2012 Olympics opening ceremony will be July 27, with the gymnastics events set to begin July 28.