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Women’s History NJ: Laurie Hernandez

Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez was born on June 9, 2000, in Old Bridge Township. She attended school in the same area and went to Abeka Academy High School. She is a world-class gymnast who trains hard and inspires many around her. In addition, Hernandez is a devout Christian and credits God in molding her consistently positive nature.

Prior to her international success professionally, Hernandez excelled in local competitions. Her career as a gymnast began at the U.S. Classic in 2012. Though she was not even a teenager, she placed 11th in the junior division; after qualifying for the USA Gymnastics National Championships, she placed 21st there as well.

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Early Successes

The following year, she competed in the American Classic; she came in first on floor exercise, second in the all-around, and third on balance beam and vault. Shortly after, she joined the U.S. Junior National Team and visited Chicago for her second run in the U.S. Classic. She placed sixth all-around and won the floor exercise title. A month later, she won the silver medal in the junior all-around competition at the National Championships.

2014 was a tough year for Laurie Hernandez as she faced a series of tough injuries. Early in the year, she slipped off the beam during training and fractured her wrist. This didn’t sideline her for long, however, another injury soon took its place; she had to miss out on six months of gymnastics after suffering a torn patellar tendon and dislocated kneecap. It wasn’t until the fall she was able to return, attending the final U.S. training camp of the year.

Photo of Olympic Gymnast Laurie Hernandez

Olympic Gold for Laurie Hernandez

Over the next two years, 2015-2016, Laurie Hernandez found great success. She competed in the U.S. Classic, National Championships, and International Junior Japan Meet in Yokohama, earning accolades at each. By the summer of 2016, barely 16 years old, Hernandez competed in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Here, she won gold in the Team All Around as well as a silver medal on the Balance Beam.

Of course, her talents extend beyond the floor mat. In late-2016, she took part in the reality dance competition show, Dancing with the Stars. Along with her professional dance partner, the duo won the Mirrorball Trophy in the season finale. In fact, Hernandez became the youngest winner of the program, at only 16 years old.

Laurie Hernandez made several cameos in television programs between 2016 and 2018 and published a book in 2017. Despite her busy schedule, she still actively pursues gymnastics. Her motto in life is “embrace every moment—and smile.” She hopes through her actions and attitude she can inspire those around her to do the same.

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