Darren Elg Athlete Profile | BYU Cougar Club

Darren Elg Athlete Profile

Darren Elg

Darren Elg
Hometown: Sandy, UT Mission: Los Angeles, CA Hall of Fame: 2006

  • 2006 Gymnastics


  • 1990 NCAA High Bar
  • 1993 NCAA High Bar
  • 1993 NCAA Parallel Bars
  • 1995 NCAA All-Around
  • 1995 NCAA Floor
  • 1995 NCAA High Bar
  • 1996 NCAA All-Around

Academic All-America

  • 1993 CoSida Third Team
  • 1995 CoSida First Team

2006 Hall of Fame Inductee

Many people think they know what the word "comeback" means. Darren Elg actually does. Twice in his incredible BYU men's gymnastics career, the seven-time All-American and Nissen Award winner had to travel the long road back to competition, not sure if he would make it. But make it he did, becoming one of the top gymnasts in BYU history along the way.

Elg's prolific college career began in 1990 when, as a freshman, he won the Western Athletic Conference title on the floor exercise and placed fifth on the high bar at the NCAA Championships, earning his first All-America award. Less than six months later, he gave up the sport completely to serve a two-year mission in Los Angeles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Despite trading in floor routines for Spanish lessons, Elg returned in 1993 determined to rise to the pinnacle of his sport. As a sophomore, he once again won the league title on the floor exercise, this time in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, while being named the MPSF Athlete of the Year. In addition to top-five NCAA finishes on the parallel bars and high bar, earning him two more All- America citations, Elg excelled in the classroom, garnering GTE/ CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team recognition.

Elg was primed and ready for another great year in 1994 when disaster struck. While performing the "Iron Cross" on the rings -- one of gymnastics' most difficult maneuvers -- Elg's pectoral muscle ripped away from the bone. Despite high hopes for an NCAA Championship, Elg was forced to redshirt the year and begin the long road to recovery.

No stranger to fighting back, Elg returned with a vengeance in 1995, earning three more All-America citations with a second-place NCAA finish in the all-around and third-place finishes on floor and high bar. During the course of the season, he scored a perfect 10.0 on the high bar -- just the second perfect high bar score in BYU history -- and was named the Cougar Sports Magazine Male Athlete of the Year. The highlight of the year, however, came in January when Elg competed at the Winter Cup Challenge, besting the top 16 gymnasts in the nation over the age of 19 and earning a spot on the U.S. Senior National Team.

As a senior in 1996, Elg continued his national prowess, winning the Nissen Award -- the sport's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy -- annually given to the nation's top gymnast. He ranked first in the all-around for most of the year until an ankle injury slowed him down and finished the season third in the all-around for his seventh All- America award while also placing seventh on the high bar and eighth on the pommel horse at the NCAA Championships. He went out on top of the MPSF as the league's Athlete of the Year. His success in the classroom was also recognized with GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team accolades. Elg, who holds the BYU record in the all-around and on the pommel horse and shares the top score on the floor and high bar, graduated from BYU that April with a 3.93 GPA in Health Science.

In the end, it was Elg's love for learning more than his love for gymnastics that guided his life after BYU. He attended the Southern California College of Optometry, graduating in 2000 as the class Valedictorian, and has earned several professional awards for his work. A member of the American and Arizona Optometric Associations, Elg runs his own practice in Arizona, where he participates each year in various community programs such as Vision USA, which offers eye exams for the underprivileged. He and his wife Stephanie have two daughters -- Alison and Natalie. 


  • B.S. in health sciences from BYU, 1996
  • Attended and graduated from the Southern California College of Optometry in 2000
  • Served an LDS church mission to Los, Angeles California
  • Married to  Stephanie and has two daughters

Career Highlights

  • Six-time All-American
  • Two-time GTE/CoSidea Academic All-American1992-93, 1994-95
  • Member of the United States Senior National Team, 1995
  • BYU record holder in all-around (58.95), floor exercise (9.95) and high bar (10)

Before BYU

  • Native of Sandy, Utah
  • Class II Junior Olympic National Champion
  • Participated in the U.S. Olympic Festival

After BYU

  • Finished optometry school at Southern California College of Optometry
  • Works as a self-employed optometrist in Queen Creek, Arizona
  • Participates each year in various programs, such as Vision USA, wich offer eye exams for the underprivileged
  • Also a member of the American and Arizona Optometric Associations

Post BYU Honors and Societies

  • Valedictorian of the Southern California College of Optometry, Class of 2000
  • Earned the Dixon Scholarship, the USP Independent Practice Award and the Vistakon Excellence Award
  • Inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame in 2006