Born June 9, 2000
Laurie Hernandez is an Olympic Gymnast from New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is most known for winning an individual Silver Medal in the individual balance beam event, and team Gold Medal at the 2016 Olympics as a member of the US Team’s “Final Five”.
Born at the turn of the century, Hernandez began her gymnastics career as a young child after dance classes failed to capture her attention. Throughout her younger days, she quickly built a reputation for herself as a highly-skilled, charismatic gymnast in her home state.
In 2016, she was given a spot on the US team – joining a short list of Latinas to perfrom for the US since 1936. Tracee Talavera, Annia Hatch, and Kyla Ross are the only other Latinas to have represented the US in Olympic competition.
“I’m proud of my heritage,” said Hernandez to NBC in an interview a few years back. “I think it’s amazing that I can just go out there and be myself, and the fact that I’m carrying Puerto Rico on my back a little bit, I think that’s an honor.”
The youngest of three children, Hernandez says that her parents – Anthony and Wanda – are a big reason for their daughter’s success. Wanda, a social worker, and Anthony, a court officer in New Jersey, raised all of their children to become athletic at a very young age.
“My mother was in the Army Reserve for six years,” said Hernandez. “She taught me the importance of following rules, finishing what I start, never giving up, leadership skills, teamwork, and staying positive and motivated.”
After beginning gymnastics at the age of 6, Maggie Haney became Laurie’s coach and manager, leading Hernandez to be selected for the US team in 2016.
Laurie, a devot christian, says prayer has also been a driving force behind allowing her to deal with the pressures of competition, and reach such great heights.
“Usually before I salute the judge, I’m able to just grab the event and I pray on it and that really grounds me,” she has said to CBN News. “For some reason, once I do that, I am able to think clearly and I’m able to calm down right before I compete.
Alex Brasky is the creator of the local sports website www.bataviasbest.org.