Senior gymnast Daniel Diaz-Luong opened his Michigan career as a champion, but the question this year is whether he leave as one.

Diaz-Luong started writing letters to Michigan when he was a sophomore in high school, expressing interest in coming to the University for academic and athletic purposes.

“Michigan had just gotten a new coach, and they were in the process of rebuilding the program,” Diaz-Luong said. “I wanted to come in and be part of the rebuilding process.”

Diaz-Luong chose Michigan, and was a major contributor to the Wolverines” national championship team in the 1999. He competed in many events and was the pommel horse and vault national champion.

After reaching the pinnacle of men”s collegiate gymnastics, he hit rough times in his sophomore year.

“The entire year was terrible,” said Diaz-Luong. “I came off a wrist injury to get a neck injury, and had several ankle injuries. I was on the verge of hanging it up.”

After talking to family, Diaz-Luong decided to stick it out, and things worked out well.

He became a member of the 2001 Pan-American Championship team the 2001 World Championship team. He also won the Big Ten Championship in the vault and floor exercise and earned five all-american honors after the injuries.

This year Diaz-Luong and his teammates are looking to shake off a rough 5-4 start and to get back to being national contenders. Michigan coach Kurt Golder believes that there is a lot to be confident about.

“This year has kind of gone like our year did when we won the National Championship,” Golder said. “We had a lot to overcome that year with injuries, just as we do this year.”

“We have a talented team and a lot of ability,” Diaz-Luong said. “I see very good things happening to us in the next few months.”

Eight Michigan gymnasts will travel with Diaz-Luong to the Winter Cup Challenge this weekend in Las Vegas. They will look to showcase their abilities, and as they compete for the final two spots on the U.S. National Team.

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