Games & medals
Rio de Janeiro 2016
|#4 r1/2||Gymnastics||Floor Exercise|
Lolo / Human Emoji
Being a gymnast means having the strength to hold on and the courage to let go.”
Number of medals
2 Olympic medals
1 Olympic Games
Lauren HERNANDEZ biography
New Jersey-born Hernandez was one of the first generation of athletes born in the 21st century to win an Olympic gold medal – just under a month after her 16th birthday. The 5ft (1.5m) tall gymnast was part of the USA’s remarkable “Final Five” team at Rio 2016 – alongside brilliant teammates MyKayla Skinner, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian, and Simone Biles, herself already considered possibly the best gymnast of all time.
In Rio, Hernandez bagged a gold medal in the team event, and later in the Games secured an individual silver medal in the balance beam, beating Biles who placed third. Hernandez, who now trains in California, loves the apparatus. “Beam routines are a minute and 30 seconds long, and that’s a minute and 30 seconds that I really get to zone in on what I'm doing,” she said. “It feels good.”
Post-Games, Hernandez became something of a celebrity back home. She competed on – and won – series 23 of Dancing with the Stars, partnering Val Chmerkovskiy and becoming the youngest winner in the show’s history. She called the experience “a crazy roller-coaster” after being described as ‘Little Miss Dynamite’ by head judge Len Goodman. “My goal is to inspire others as I go on with my journey,” said Hernandez. She’s since forged something of a second career as a TV star – co-hosting American Ninja Warrior Junior and starring in the Nickelodeon series Middle School Moguls.
But gymnastics remains her passion. She considered returning to the sport in 2019, before deciding to come back in the 2020 season. “We want to go out there when we’re completely ready,” Hernandez said. Tokyo remains her goal. Training hard, she said she is only going to re-emerge on the gymnastics scene when she is ready. “We’re going to come out with a bang,” she said. “Taking a break was really important. I had done gymnastics since I was five and made the Olympic team at 16. So that’s 11 years, the first chunk of my life, that I dedicated to just one thing.”