Lauren Zoe Hernandez (born June 9, 2000) is an American artistic gymnast. During her debut year as a senior gymnast, she competed as a member of the U.S. women's gymnastics team dubbed the "Final Five" at the 2016 Summer Olympics; Ultimately, the U.S. won gold in the team event. In the individual events, Hernandez earned the silver medal on the balance beam. She returned to training in late 2018 and expressed interest in making a comeback to earn a spot on the U.S. women's gymnastic team for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
|Full name||Lauren Zoe Hernandez|
|Nickname(s)||Baby Shakira and The Human Emoji|
|Country represented||United States|
|Born||June 9, 2000|
Old Bridge Township, New Jersey
|Training location||Morganville, New Jersey|
|Height||5 ft 1 in (155 cm)|
|Discipline||Women's artistic gymnastics|
|Level||Senior International Elite|
|Years on national team||2012–16 (USA)|
|Club||Gym-Max Gymnastics (since 2018), MG Elite (former)|
|Head coach(es)||Jenny Liang|
|Former coach(es)||Maggie Haney|
Outside of gymnastics, Hernandez has appeared on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars in 2016, where she won the competition along with partner Val Chmerkovskiy. Hernandez hosted the first season of American Ninja Warrior Junior as the on-course reporter and starred as Valeria in the Nickelodeon animated miniseries Middle School Moguls. She is the author of two books, I Got This: To Gold and Beyond, a New York Times Bestseller and She's Got This, a children's book.
Hernandez was born in Old Bridge Township, New Jersey, the daughter of Wanda and Anthony Hernandez, both from Puerto Rico. She attended Abeka Academy High School in Old Bridge, New Jersey. She has a sister, Jelysa, and a brother, Marcus, who graduated from Rutgers University in 2018. She is of Puerto Rican descent.
Hernandez's elite career started in 2012 at the U.S. Classic, where she placed 11th in the junior division. Through the Classic, she qualified to the National Championships in St. Louis, where she placed 21st after two days of competition.
Hernandez's first meet of the 2013 season was the WOGA Classic, won the silver medal in the all-around behind Meredith Sylvia. In June, she competed at the American Classic in Huntsville, Texas. There, she placed first on floor exercise, second in the all-around behind Ariana Agrapides, and third on balance beam and vault.
Following a national training camp, in July 2013 Hernandez was added to the U.S. junior national team. She then went to Chicago for the U.S. Classic, where she placed sixth all-around and won the floor exercise title. At the National Championships in August, she won the silver medal in the junior all-around competition with a total score of 116.650, behind Bailie Key. She also placed second on uneven bars and floor exercise, and tied for third on beam with Alexis Vasquez.
In September, Hernandez was selected to represent the U.S. at the Junior Japan International in Yokohama. She scored 56.750 to win the bronze medal in the all-around. She also took third on vault, fourth on floor exercise, and sixth on balance beam. In November, she competed at the International Junior Mexican Cup in Acapulco alongside Bailie Key, Veronica Hults, and Emily Gaskins, and they won the team gold medal. Individually, Hernandez won the silver medal in the all-around behind Key.
In early 2014, Hernandez fractured her wrist when she slipped off the beam in a training session. She returned to competition soon after the injury but then suffered a torn patellar tendon and dislocated kneecap, resulting in six months out of gymnastics. She resumed training in the fall and attended the final U.S. training camp of the year in November.
Hernandez was named to the U.S. team for the 2015 City of Jesolo Trophy, where she was crowned junior all-around champion with a score of 57.650, ahead of teammates Norah Flatley and Jazmyn Foberg. In the junior-division event finals, she earned additional gold medals on the uneven bars, with a score of 14.500, and the floor exercise, with a score of 14.650.
At the 2015 U.S. Classic in July, Hernandez won the junior all-around title with a score of 58.450, as well as winning vault (14.900) and uneven bars (15.000). She placed third on balance beam (14.200) and floor exercise (14.350, tied with Deanne Soza).
At the National Championships, she had a score of 57.900 on the first day of competition and 59.550 on the second day, winning the junior all-around title over defending champion Foberg. She also won the title on the uneven bars with a combined two-day score of 30.100, silver on the floor exercise, and bronze on balance beam and vault.
Hernandez was then selected to compete at the 2015 International Junior Japan Meet in Yokohama, where she won the all-around, floor exercise, and vault and won silver medals on balance beam and uneven bars.
Hernandez made her senior debut in 2016 at the City of Jesolo Trophy in Jesolo, Italy, where the U.S. team won the gold medal. Hernandez won the bronze medal in the all-around with a score of 58.550, behind two U.S. teammates, fellow first-year senior Ragan Smith and Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic all-around champion. She also earned a silver medal on vault and a gold medal on balance beam, ahead of Smith and 2012 Olympian Aly Raisman.
In April, Hernandez competed at the Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships in Everett, Washington along with Raisman, Smith, three-time world all-around champion Simone Biles, and 2015 World Championships team member Brenna Dowell. She contributed an all-around score of 59.800 toward the American team's first-place finish and placed third individually behind Biles and Raisman, but did not earn the all-around bronze medal because of a rule limiting medals to two gymnasts per country (Japan's Nagi Kajita took bronze instead). Hernandez also qualified for the balance beam final, but USA Gymnastics announced that she and Biles would not compete in event finals in order to rest them before the Olympics.
In June, Hernandez competed at the U.S. Classic on bars only, scoring 15.400. Later that month, she competed all four events at the National Championships. At the end of night one, she was tied for second place in the all-around with Raisman, behind Biles, with a score of 60.450. On night two, she scored 14.800 on vault, 15.150 on uneven bars, 15.300 on balance beam, and 14.800 on floor exercise. She finished the two-day competition in third all-around, behind Biles and Raisman. She placed third on uneven bars and balance beam, and tied for third on floor exercise with MyKayla Skinner.
In 2014, Hernandez committed to the University of Florida to compete on the Florida Gators gymnastics team in the NCAA. However, she decided to forgo NCAA eligibility and become a professional athlete on August 3, 2016, in the lead-up to the Olympic Games.
Rio de Janeiro OlympicsEdit
On August 7, Hernandez competed in the women's qualification at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where the top eight teams advance to the team finals. Hernandez scored a 15.200 on vault, a 15.366 on balance beam, and a 14.800 in floor exercise, qualifying to the balance beam event finals in second place. She posted the fourth highest score on floor, but did not advance to the final due to the two-per-country rule, with teammates Biles and Raisman getting higher scores. Hernandez did not compete on uneven bars. The United States team finished first in team qualifications, securing a spot in team finals with a score of 185.238.
On August 9, Hernandez and the rest of the United States team, known as the Final Five, won gold in the team competition. The Americans won every event, scoring a total of 184.897, more than eight points higher than second-place team Russia (176.688) and third-place team China (176.003). Hernandez was the first competitor on vault and floor exercise for the United States team. She contributed to the overall score with 15.100 on vault, 15.233 on beam and 14.833 on floor exercise.
On August 15 during event finals, Hernandez won a silver medal on balance beam with a score of 15.333. She placed ahead of teammate Simone Biles, who placed third with a score of 14.733 after making an error and grabbing the beam, and behind Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands, who won gold with a score of 15.466.
After the Olympics, Hernandez appeared on the television show Dancing with the Stars. She continued appearing on television and in the media throughout the next four years, as a show host and voice actor as well as a celebrity guest. She returned to gymnastics training in October 2018, after two years off. Although Hernandez previously trained in New Jersey at MG Elite, for her comeback she chose to switch gymnastics clubs and train at Gym-Max in California with coaches Jenny Zhang and Howie Liang. In August 2019, she said that she was training five hours per day, six days a week. Hernandez was invited to the national team training camp held November 15–18, 2019 after spectating at the US Championships in August and speaking to team coordinator Tom Forster while there.
In January 2020, Hernandez said that she was focusing on meets beginning in late May 2020: the U.S. Classic, USA National Championships, and the US Olympic Trials. Hernandez did not attend the February national team training camp, despite being invited. As the February camp was a selection for spring international meets, Hernandez could not participate in competitions held in March and April 2020. According to team coordinator Tom Forster, Hernandez accepted an invitation to the April camp. On April 29, Hernandez's former coach Maggie Haney was suspended by USA Gymnastics for eight years due to abusive conduct. Hernandez testified against Haney at the USA Gymnastics hearing, and posted a message about her experiences on her social media without naming the coach. Haney publicly humiliated Hernandez for her weight, leading Hernandez to binge and purge. She also forced Hernandez to train and compete while injured. As of 2020, Hernandez still struggles with depression and disordered eating that began due to Haney's abuse. Within the gymnastics community, Haney's suspension was seen as progress for USA Gymnastics, and fans widely supported Hernandez online.
In February, Hernandez made her return to elite gymnastics at the 2021 Winter Cup, competing in two events. Despite competing a downgraded floor routine, Hernandez managed to hit a clean beam routine to finish fifth on the event behind Skye Blakely, Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee, and Konnor McClain. Hernandez was one of five gymnasts featured on the Peacock docuseries Golden: The Journey of USA's Elite Gymnasts.
In June, Hernandez competed at the 2021 U.S. championships. She competed in beam and vault. Hernandez had to withdraw from the competition after hyperextending her left knee in balance beam warm-ups. Hernandez had her knee heavily wrapped. She was not added to the national team, and she did not qualify to compete at the upcoming Olympic Trials.
Television roles and media appearancesEdit
Dancing with the StarsEdit
Hernandez was revealed as one of the celebrities competing on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars on August 30, 2016. She was partnered with professional dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy. The couple won the Mirrorball Trophy on the episode that aired November 22, 2016. At 16, Hernandez is currently the show's youngest winner.
Other television rolesEdit
|2016||Dancing with the Stars||Herself||Contestant on Season 23|
|2017||Stuck in the Middle||2 episodes|
|2018||Sesame Street||Cameo on Season 48|
|Celebrity Family Feud||Summer 2018 Season|
|American Ninja Warrior Junior||Co-Host|
|2019||Middle School Moguls||Valeria||Voice role|
|Ryan's Mystery Playdate||Herself||Episode: "Ryan's Champion Playdate/Ryan's Traveling Playdate"|
|2020||Blue's Clues & You!||Episode: "Happy Birthday, Blue!"|
|2021||Golden: The Journey of USA's Elite Gymnasts||Peacock docuseries|
From November 24–26, 2017, Hernandez was the special guest narrator for the Candlelight Processional at Epcot Center in Disney World.
Hernandez released her book I Got This: To Gold and Beyond on January 24, 2017. In 2018 Hernandez published a similar children's book for younger readers titled She's Got This, with illustrations by Nina Mata.
|Secret U.S. Classic||11||10||23||7||6|
|Japan Junior International||6||4|
|Junior Mexican Cup|
|2015||City of Jesolo Trophy|
|Japan Junior International|
|2016||City of Jesolo Trophy|
|Pacific Rim Championships|
|2017||did not compete|
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- "Secret U.S. Classic – Seniors". FloGymnastics. FloSports. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
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- "2016 Rio Olympic Games Recap, Results & Photos". USA Gymnastics.
- "Hernandez, Biles grab beam silver and bronze". USA Gymnastics. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
- OlympicTalk (July 19, 2019). "Laurie Hernandez: My focus is next year". OlympicTalk | NBC Sports. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
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- "28 women expected to participate in November's U.S. Women's National Team Training Camp". USA Gymnastics. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
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- "Jesolo, Gymnix Spots On The Line For Gymnasts Invited To USAG February Camp". www.flogymnastics.com. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
- "Maggie Haney suspended 8 years by USA Gymnastics". Press Telegram. April 30, 2020. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
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- "Abuse suffered by Laurie Hernandez further tarnishes the Final Five's 2016 gold medals". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
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- Clarke, Liz (May 2, 2020). "Some see ban of Laurie Hernandez's coach as progress for USA Gymnastics but question the timetable". Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
- Hernandez, Laurie (May 5, 2020). "just wanted to say thank you for all the love & positive comments I've gotten since coming out with my story. your support means so much more than you know". @LaurieHernandez. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
- "2021 Winter Cup Senior Women Results" (PDF).
- "Peacock Lays Out Olympics "Destination" With Live Shows, Five New Channels, Original Programming". Deadline Hollywood. June 23, 2021.
- "Biles wins seventh national all-around championship, most in U.S. women's gymnastics history". USA Gymnastics. June 7, 2021.
- "Simone Biles is headed out on her 'GOAT' tour this fall". CNN. August 3, 2021.
- "'DWTS' 2016 Celebrity Cast Revealed: Ryan Lochte, Amber Rose, Rick Perry Among Star Lineup". Good Morning America: Yahoo. August 30, 2016. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
- "Dancing with the Stars Finale 2016 Recap: Who won the Mirrorball Trophy? - Dancing with the Stars". ABC.
- "Laurie Hernandez wins Dancing with the Stars, youngest champion ever". Sports Illustrated. November 22, 2016. Archived from the original on November 23, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
- Montgomery, Daniel. "'Dancing with the Stars' trio dances will invite back Kelly Monaco, Alfonso Ribeiro, Laurie Hernandez, Corbin Bleu". goldderby.com. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
- Brozyna, Emily. "'Dancing with the Stars' trio dances will invite back Kelly Monaco, Alfonso Ribeiro, Laurie Hernandez, Corbin Bleu". J-14.com. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
- Hernandez, Laurie. "(Untitled)". Instagram.
- "Nickelodeon Greenlights 'Middle School Moguls' CG-Animated Specials; Jane Lynch, Tim Gunn Among Voice Cast". Deadline Hollywood. September 11, 2018.
- Gore, Leada (November 23, 2016). "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2016: Time, channel, lineup and livestream for annual holiday tradition". AL.com. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
- Tuttle, Brittani (October 19, 2017). "Kurt Russell, Olympian Laurie Hernandez, others added to list of Candlelight Processional narrators". Attractions Magazine. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
- "Laurie Hernandez explains wink, nervous Olympic moments in book excerpt". NBC Sports. January 19, 2017.
- "She's Got This". Publishers Weekly.
- Kuperinsky, Amy (October 26, 2019). "Laurie Hernandez, Olympic gymnast and 'Human Emoji,' on becoming the youngest member of the N.J. Hall of Fame". NJ.com. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
- Actresses, gymnast named grand marshals of 2020 Rose Parade, AP, October 15, 2019
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