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Interview: David Durante (USA)
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Newly crowned U.S. champion David Durante talks about his quick change of roles, from 2006 team alternate to team leader at the upcoming World Championships.
David Durante

Durante, 27, placed first all-around at the 2007 U.S. Championships (Aug. 15-18 in San Jose), and was named to the American team that will compete at the 2007 World Championships (Sept. 1-9 in Stuttgart).

At the 2006 Worlds, held in Aarhus, Denmark, Durante could only cheer from the stands as an alternate on the U.S. team that finished 13th. The top 12 teams at the 2007 Worlds will qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Durante, who has been training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs since graduating from Stanford University in 2004, is now preparing to help the American team boost its international ranking in Stuttgart.

The self-assured New Jersey native spoke with IG in San Jose, where he outlined his progress as well as the American team's potential for Stuttgart.


IG: Last year in Aarhus you were an alternate, and this year in Stuttgart you will go in as a team leader. How are you preparing to switch roles so quickly?

DD: Last year I really considered myself a team leader also. I just had a bad competition at the U.S. Championships. Going to Aarhus and watching from the stands was a really tough role for me. I know I did everything I could to contribute to the team as an alternate, but I really don't see myself as an alternate. I never want to be in the position of alternate again, and that's the mindset I had coming into this year. I was thinking, "Don't ever allow yourself to be sitting up in the stands again at one of those competitions." I know that this year my role is going to be a lot different. Being out on the floor, I'm going to be the kind of leader the guys need, and do everything I can so we can succeed out there.

IG: In the past, it seems as though consistency was an issue with your performances and perhaps cost you a spot in the line-up in Aarhus. How have you managed to improve your consistency since then?

DD: It's taken a while to get used to the change from Stanford to the USOTC. I've been there a few years now, and I didn't think the adjustment would take as long as it has, but I've finally become accustomed to the way that Vitaly (Marinich) coaches and the training style at the center. I understand that I can succeed with that, and I don't need to do the amount of routines I used to do at Stanford. This new method really works for me, and it's more of a mental game. I can go out and hit cold routines, and it's really not a question of getting myself warmed up and doing things over and over again. I know in my head that I have it down.

David Durante
I'm a little older, and my body can't take the pounding it used to. I think Vitaly understands that, too, having been an athlete at this level. He's also coached people like Jason (Gatson), Brett (McClure) and Steve McCain, who competed at the world and Olympic level at an older age. So he understands that sometimes you have to just go out and be efficient and get your workouts done. You don't need to spend four, five or six hours in the gym. You can go in, get your stuff done and go home. Vitaly completely understands that. He's not about, "Do the numbers." He's like, "If it takes one turn for you to get it right, that's all it takes."

IG: Talk a bit about the other guys on the team for Stuttgart, and what you think they bring to the team.

DD: Sasha (Artemev) has a style and an elegance that's internationally recognized. He really stands out in a crowd. I remember we were in Japan, and on the wall of their training center they had clips of gymnasts from around the world doing specific skills on each event. On pommel horse they had Sasha. The only person they had in the world on pommel horse was Sasha. Everywhere you go, people know that Sasha is someone to watch out for.

(Jonathan) Horton is the ultimate competitor. He lives off the crowd and brings an emotion to the team that we need.

Kevin (Tan) is kind of on the other end of it. He's totally laid-back, and just goes out there and does his routines. He's been around this a while. He's an older guy and he has a coaching mentality. I can definitely see him as a coach when he's finished with gymnastics. He's totally there for the team, and really knows how to pick guys up when they're struggling.

(Sean) Golden is the jokester of the team. He's one of the funnier guys I know. He can lighten up the mood of a room. He's the kind of guy, too, who doesn't get flustered with anything. No matter what kind of day he's having - good or bad - he's going to go out there and do his gymnastics. That kind of consistency, and being able to hit under any kind of circumstance, is what we're going to need.

Guillermo (Alvarez) is like the silent killer. He doesn't speak too much, so you have to get him out of his shell a bit and hang out with him to see his personality. But out on the floor, he's dominant. He hits routine after routine. He already has one Worlds experience, and between Pan Ams and now, there's already been a jump in his performance. So I'm expecting one more jump from him between now and Worlds.

I'm so proud of Sho (Nakamori). I've watched him grow up at Stanford, and I was there when a lot of bad stuff happened. His father passed away when he was at a competition with me, and I was there when he broke his femur at the Pan Am Games in 2003. His family is so proud of him, and I'm no different. For him to make the senior national team and be the Worlds team alternate is a huge jump for him. I can see that Thom's (Gliemli) coaching is working for him, and he's going nowhere but up from here.

IG: What is it going to take for the team to lift itself from 13th place last year into not just the top 12, but closer to the medals?

DD: Last year really wasn't as bad as the results show. Kevin got sick (food poisoning), and he can score 16 on rings, and got a 13. We were only about a point away from finishing in the top eight and making team finals. We were one routine away from being in a lot different perspective from right now, but I think this year has helped. Last year's performance has really motivated us a lot. We have a different mentality going into Worlds.

To read IG Online's live coverage of the 2007 U.S. Championships, click here.

For an in-depth interview with Durante earlier in his career, read "All-Around Specialist," in the April 2005 issue of IG Magazine.)

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