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Orozco On His Way Back After Knee Injury
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Returning from a major knee injury, U.S. national champion John Orozco told IG he is determined to compete all six events at this weekend's national qualifier in Colorado Springs and next month's U.S. championships in Hartford.

Returning from a major knee injury last fall, U.S. national champion John Orozco told IG he is determined to compete all six events at this weekend's national qualifier in Colorado Springs and next month's U.S. championships in Hartford.

In October, Orozco suffered tears to both the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee while performing on the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions. He underwent surgery to repair the ligaments and has been undergoing rehabilitation to return to competition.

"My recovery is going well," said Orozco, 20. "I can almost do my full vaults and tumbling, but I'm only allowed to train into the pit and not onto the hard ground surface. I'll be cleared to do full difficulty right after the national qualifier."

As a member of the 2012 Olympic team, Orozco is already qualified to this year's U.S. championships. However, the Bronx native plans to test himself at the event in Colorado Springs, which takes place Saturday and Sunday.


U.S. Olympian John Orozco with U.S. President Barack Obama and his family at the White House in April

"I will be competing all six events at the national qualifier, and my routines for floor and vault will be watered down and simple since I won't be ready to do my full routines yet," he explained.

Orozco will be the defending champion at the P&G U.S. National Championships, which takes places in Aug. 15-18 in Hartford. He knows the knee injury will limit him but he is determined in his goal of competing all the events.

"Nationals will be tricky because I don't know if I will have enough time to train my full difficulty vault and floor routine," he said. "I do plan on doing all six events even if I have to water down my floor and vault routines."

For the past several years, Orozco has lived and trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs with coach Vitaly Marinich. In addition to his training, Orozco is an aspiring musician and actor. He has uploaded several videos of himself singing to his YouTube channel (see below).

Prior to the Olympics, he starred in the music video for "The Fighter" by Gym Class Heroes and appeared as an extra in three episodes of "Law & Order." He was one of 12 first-time Olympians featured in the documentary "FIRST: The Story of the London 2012 Olympic Games" that premiered in May.

Orozco has fought to overcome injury in the past. He suffered a torn Achilles' tendon at the 2010 U.S. championships, also in Hartford, but returned the next year to help the U.S. men win the team bronze at the world championships in Tokyo. And although recent his knee injury has allowed him extra training on the other events, Orozco is set on competing the all-around.

"My injury has allowed to have more time for other events besides floor and vault, but now I'm excited to get back to training vault and floor," he said.

In April, Orozco participated in the 135th White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington, D.C. He helped with the "Eggtivity Zone Obstacle Course" along with other sports stars, including NFL player Adrian Peterson and NASCAR's Danica Patrick. The obstacle course was designed to encourage children to get active, a major cause of First Lady Michelle Obama.

"Meeting the Obama family was an incredible honor," Orozco said. "They are the nicest family in the world and so generous. It was my second time meeting with Michelle Obama and she is the sweetest women I have ever met. I never thought that my gymnastics career could take me as far as it has."

Now Orozco is hoping his gymnastics career takes him to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. His Facebook cover photo is the Rio 2016 logo.

"My only goals for 2014 is to stay healthy and train smart," he said. "Rio will be the main goal for me in these next few years. I want to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games."

Read "Ready To Rise Again," a profile on John Orozco, in the November 2012 issue of International Gymnast Magazine. To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

John Orozco at the piano

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