STAMFORD, Conn. – Olympic gymnast John Orozco watched members of Stamford’s Arena Gymnastics display their skills at the club’s sixth annual Meet the Team exhibition and remembered. In a different place and time, just a few years earlier, he was an up-and-coming gymnast.
“It’s nice to come back and see them working at gymnastics,’’ said Orozco, who signed autographs after watching the exhibition. “I can tell that these girls have put a lot of time and effort into this.”
Orozco was a member of the U.S. team that competed at the London Olympics in 2012. He and many other Olympians will perform at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Hartford. The dream of the gymnasts from Arena is that someday they can reach the big stage, just like Orozco.
“I didn’t get to see the whole thing, but I was impressed by what I saw,’’ Orozco said. “But they were also having fun at it. I was happy to see that. The most important thing is for them to enjoy it.”
Twin 15-year-old sisters Pamela and Kristen Onorato of Westport enjoyed having Orozco and the rest of the crowd watch their work. It’s unusual for them to get to show their talent in front of a large audience. A standing-room-only crowd watched Arena’s gymnasts with Orozco.
“It’s impressive to see that many people here,’’ Pamela said. “We were really enjoying putting on a show. For me it was amazing to have a chance to perform in front of all these people.”
Kristen missed performing because of an injury. She took inspiration from the career of Orozco, who battled through injuries to make the U.S. squad.
“His story is incredible,’’ she said. “It just shows you that if you work hard enough, you can come back from anything.”
A long line of gymnasts and fans lined up afterward to get autographs from Orozco. The New York native, who trained as a boy in Chappaqua, N.Y., happily stayed long after the exhibition was over.
“I’m glad to see them pursuing their dreams,’’ he said. “Maybe there is a gymnast here who might grow up to be an Olympian.”