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Horton had more than Olympic rings on his mind

by Jenni Carlson Published: August 3, 2008
NORMAN — Olympic hopeful Jonathan Horton has been focused on the rings.

Except for the time spent thinking about a ring.

The Olympic rings have been front and center this summer for the former Oklahoma gymnast. First, he made the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. Then, he became the top American going to Beijing when injury forced Paul Hamm out of the Games.

This has been a life-changing summer.

That's not just because of gymnastics either. Horton also proposed to longtime girlfriend Haley DeProspero.

"She didn't know it was coming,” he said, grinning.

Who could blame her?

Horton asked DeProspero to marry him between the two biggest meets of his life, the U.S. Championships and the Olympic trials. Both were part of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team.

Not exactly a time you'd expect a big-time contender to make a life-altering decision.

Then again, Horton and DeProspero have always juggled their sport and their relationship.

The two gymnasts met on her recruiting visit to Oklahoma. Horton was a hot-shot freshman, but DeProspero was none too impressed.

"She actually didn't like me at all at first,” Horton said.

"But,” DeProspero said, "I gave him my number against my first intuition.”

She smiled.

"I'm glad I did.”

Horton and DeProspero talked on the phone at first — "She found out that I wasn't so bad,” Horton said — and after she chose the Sooners and moved to Norman, they began dating.

They've been together ever since.

"It's hard sometimes, especially during the season,” DeProspero said. "But ... me being part of it, I understand what he's doing and what he's going through.”

Horton said, "It definitely simplified things because we understood each other. We've got so many priorities, so many things to do. We just enjoy the time we get to spend together.”

They had decided to spend a day together after U.S. Championships. Not only had Horton come through a tough competition, but DeProspero had just taken the MCAT. She wants to go to medical school and spent a year studying for the entrance exam.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Olympic gymnast Jonathan Horton proposed to Haley DeProspero between the two biggest meets of his life. By jaconna Aguirre, the Oklahoman


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