Artistic Gymnastics

Laurie Hernandez launches ‘Champions Challenge’ to honour Puerto Rican heritage

Plus, Amy Tinkler joins 'Dancing on Ice,' Nia Dennis' viral moment and Olympic archive in this week's weekly gymnastics recap

By Scott Bregman ·

When Laurie Hernandez made the 2016 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team, she became the first woman of Latina descent to do so in more than 30 years. At those Rio Games, she went on to help Team USA to team gold and earned an individual silver medal on the balance beam.

Tuesday, Hernandez announced the Laurie Hernandez Champions Challenge to be held in Puerto Rico in December. The event, to which athletes will qualify through a series of meets, will benefit in part the Puerto Rican gymnastics federation, according to the event’s website.

“I am a second generation American. My grandparents are from Puerto Rico and I'm really proud to be the first U.S. born Latina to make the U.S. Olympic team since 1984,” said Hernandez in an Instagram post announcing the event. “Both of my parents have roots in Puerto Rico. They spent time growing up and visiting the island and bringing the culture to me, my sister Jay and my brother Marcus."

"So being Puerto Rican is something that our family holds with a lot of pride.”

Amy Tinkler joins ‘Dancing on Ice’

Olympic bronze medallist Amy Tinkler of Team GB joins the cast of ‘Dancing on Ice’ this week after stage star Denise Van Outen had to exit due to a shoulder injury. The show airs on ITV in the United Kingdom.

Tinkler, who won floor exercise bronze behind Americans Simone Biles and Aly Raisman at Rio 2016, announced her retirement from competitive gymnastics in early 2020.

“I can’t wait to show you all what we can do!” Tinkler said in an Instagram post this week. “For the past 3 months Joe [Johnson] and I have been working super hard as the reserve team for @dancingonice and we’re super excited to say we will be in the show on Sunday!”

The calendar is changing… again.

The International Gymnastics Federation announced this week that the Baku World Cup, previously scheduled for 4-7 March has been cancelled. The event was not a Tokyo 2020 qualifier as results from the 2020 edition will serve to select apparatus spots for the Games.

One Olympic qualifying event that is up in the air is the Pan American Championships. Originally scheduled to be hosted by USA Gymnastics in Utah in May, the federation says it will no longer hold that event.

An official announcement has not come on a new host, but online speculation indicates Brazil may take on the event. That would be good news Team Brazil which currently only has one women’s gymnastics spot for Tokyo 2020. They will hope that 2016 Olympian Rebeca Andrade, who missed the 2019 World Championships due to injury, can secure a spot there.

Nia Dennis captivates the internet with ‘Black excellence’ routine

For the second year in a row, Nia Dennis has gone viral for her floor exercise routine. The University of California at Los Angeles senior debuted a routine last weekend, celebrating Black excellence.

The routine has more than 10 million views on the @UCLAGymnastics account and has garnered reactions from the likes of former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and Missy Elliott.

From the vault…

This week, we’re make the dreams of @ukrgymn come true with the North Korean’s uneven bars rotation from the qualifying round at Athens 2004. Though the team finished 12th overall, they had the fifth best score on the uneven bars highlighted by Pyon Kwang-Sun’s 9.600 effort.

Pyon Kwang-Sun on the uneven bars during qualifications at Athens 2004

WATCH: North Korea’s uneven bars rotation from the qualifying round at Athe...