Connect with us


Local Olympic Spotlight: Team USA Gymnast, Laurie Hernandez

Laurie Hernandez of Old Bridge, NJ (USA Today Sports)

Laurie Hernandez of Old Bridge, NJ (USA Today Sports)


The youngest member of the United States Olympic gymnastic team, 16-year old Old Bridge native Laurie Hernandez is ready to take the world by storm in Rio next month.

Hernandez is new to senior level gymnastics, having just burst onto the scene earlier in 2016 at Jesolo. In the Pacific Rim Championships, she finished third in the all-around only behind the dominant Simone Biles, and two-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman. In the national championships she again finished third in the all-around behind Biles and Raisman, continuing her meteoric rise by punching her ticket to Rio following a second place finish in the Olympic Trials.

She has trained at Monmouth Gymnastic Academy in Morganville, New Jersey for most of the last ten years with Coach Maggie Haney. Haney had never coached an elite level gymnast before, but over the past few years, the two have grown together and learned the process. She began to dominate junior competition in 2013, but a devastating litany of injuries in 2014 knocked her out of competition for the entire year. She fractured her wrist, and then dislocated her right kneecap on a bad vault that also bruised her MCL and tore her patella ligament. However, she returned in 2015 as strong as ever, dominating her four junior tournaments, winning the all-around in each.

In Rio, Hernandez has a strong chance to bring home a significant haul of medals. The only thing standing in her way is her own teammates, as Olympic rules that stipulate that only two gymnasts per country can make the final of each apparatus. With the two-per country rule, Hernandez could be blocked from the finals of the all-around, the floor, and the beam. Biles and Raisman are strong contenders for the all-around gold, with Biles as close to a sure thing as the sport can provide, not to mention that teammate Gabby Douglas is the reigning gold-medalist in the all-around. Hernandez’s strongest event, the floor exercise, is also blocked by Biles and reigning gold-medalist Raisman.

While Hernandez did topple Biles on the beam in the Olympic Trials, she is still expected to be tough to beat, while Raisman won the bronze medal in that event in London. Douglas and Madison Kocian are also strong on the beam as well. Douglas and Kocian are expected to be the top competitors in the uneven bars, leaving vault as the only likely opening for Hernandez for an individual medal behind Biles. Unless one of her teammates stumbles or she whips out new tricks, Hernandez could be saddled with only an anticipated team medal. Hernandez is expected to be the only member of the five woman team to participate in each of the four apparatuses in the team competition.

Nicknamed the “human emojii”, Laurie is planning on attending the University of Florida as a student-athlete in 2018. Her mother Wanda works as a social worker for an elementary school, while her father, Anthony, works as a county clerk for the New York State Supreme Court. She has been homeschooled since she was in third grade, and she is the first U.S. Born Latina to make the United States Gymnastics team since Tracee Talavera made it in 1984.



The following two tabs change content below.
Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Gymnastics