First Male Twirler at UTSA Heads to International Competition

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 10, 2016 12:19 pm

More than 100 athletes who are either from or have ties to Texas are competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. But Thursday, one of the state’s top competitors is headed to a different international contest. Esteban Bustillos with the San Antonio-Express News has been following the story of Michael Lopez, one of the best twirlers in the U.S.

“The competition that he’s going to in Sweden is the World Baton Twirling Championships,” he says. “It’s essentially the twirling community’s Olympics. Twirling itself is not yet an Olympic sport.”

Lopez hails from the Alamo City and captains the twirling program at the University of Texas at San Antonio – he’s the first man to ever twirl at his university.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen – it’s a weird mix of gymnastics and figure skating and juggling and it’s one of the most athletically challenging events that I’ve seen,” Bustillos says. “He has to spin his body in ways that it’s hard to even imagine but he does it with so much grace and he makes it look so effortless. It’s basically one of the hardest things I could imagine a human being doing and he does it all the time.”

Bustillos says Lopez picked up the sport relatively late.

“He’s been twirling since he was about 14 years old, and he got into it after seeing his aunt twirl at a family party and he’s been doing it ever since.”

Lopez is competing as part of the senior men’s freestyle team and is slated for a solo program. He’ll be performing a routine to James Blunt’s “Goodbye My Lover.”

But obviously, we have to talk about the Olympics because Texans are leading the pack. Houston Public Media’s Eddie Robinson has the scoop on Simone Biles and the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team.

“The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team has defended its title with a gold medal win at the Rio Olympics led by three-time world champion and Houston-area resident Simone Biles, who’s from Spring, Texas,” he says. “The Americans blew away the competition – the team finished more than 8 points ahead of runner-up Russia.”

Biles will compete in the Women’s individual all-around on Thursday.

“What’s in a name?”

That’s not just a line from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” – it’s the question Midland Mayor Jerry Morales is hoping to answer. The Midland Reporter-Telegram says he’s looking for a new name for the city’s greater downtown area after a series of restoration projects. The city is accepting submissions online until Friday.