Artistic Gymnastics

Olympic champ Laurie Hernandez releases first song 'Friend'

The poignant song comes in a year where the gymnastics star has sought to use her platform

By Scott Bregman ·

Olympic gymnastics gold medallist Laurie Hernandez has added a new line to her impressive resume this week: recording artist. The 20-year-old is featured on her first song alongside Josh Del. The song, titled simply “Friend” is available to stream on all major platforms.

“My first song is out with my buddy Josh,” Hernandez wrote in a post on Twitter. “I couldn’t be more excited.”

Hernandez joins Del’s vocals as the two-minute mark of the song approaches.

“There’s too much confusion for what we all need. What it means to be human, what it means to be free,” Hernandez sings. “There’s no perfect answer to what we all crave. You’re the one that I turn to is what I mean to say, and I need to know that you care.”

Hernandez’ poignant words come in a year where the gymnastics star has come forward to disclose the emotional and psychological abuse she suffered under former coach Maggie Haney, often using her platform to highlight the importance of mental health.

“Cause for you I will always be right here,” Hernandez sings her in final solo line of the song.

German gymnasts Pauline and Helene Schafer speak out on gymnastics abuse

Hernandez is not alone in her fight against abuse in gymnastics. Germany's Pauline Schafer, the 2017 World balance beam champion, and younger sister Helene came forward this week to disclose emotional and psychological abuse, including weight-shaming, they suffered during their training.

“We weren’t hit but the pressure was so high,” said Pauline Schafer in an interview with “We always had to deliver.”

The sisters’ message echoes many women in the sport who have come forward to discuss a toxic culture in the sport in the four years since the disclosure of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse.

“I want to encourage girls to speak up, and if you talk about your experience you can start to work through it. I want to tell my story to be transparent.”

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An extra-special Thanksgiving for Jake Dalton

Two-time Olympian Jake Dalton and his wife, Kayla, welcomed their first child, Lucca Rose, to the world on 26 November – Thanksgiving in the United States. 

“Well, a much longer Thanksgiving but one we will never forget and one we are incredibly thankful for,” Dalton wrote on Instagram. “I can’t wait to make so many memories and watch you grow… hopefully, not too fast.”

Dalton, a four-time World Championships medallist, has been open about he and his wife’s fertility struggles, including in a 10 June post announcing their pregnancy. 

“We’ve learned, grown, laughed, cried and prayed together over the last few years as we’ve struggled through our own fertility journey. We are humbled and stronger because of it.”

What else?

  • Fans wanting to learn more about the sport have a new option. The popular gymnastics podcast GymCastic launched its new series: Gym Nerd School 101. “Welcome to the first episode of Gym Nerd School, an educational series where we will explain rules, skills, myths, jargon, and important gym nerd history—all based on your questions!,” reads the description on the GymCastic website.
  • In case you missed it, we released more of our exclusive interview with 2008 Olympic silver medallist and 2005 World all-around champion Chellsie Memmel over the weekend. The 32-year-old, who is in the midst of a return to elite training after eight years and two children, says of star Simone Biles: "I don't think I know enough words because she's just like she's ridiculous. For me, sometimes it is hard to judge because it's just an appreciation of the incredible difficulty that she is doing."

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  • Finally, the sport is mourning the death of Russian coach Evgeny Nikolko, who guided four-time Olympic champion Alexei Nemov. Nikolko was 76 and died due to complications with pneumonia.

From the vault...

Watch the entire Chinese balance beam rotation from the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, including Kui Yuanyuan’s 9.875 effort in the anchor spot. Kui’s score was the top mark on balance beam in any phase of competition in Atlanta, but a full during the compulsory round kept her from fighting for a medal in the final.

The Chinese team finished fourth overall, behind the United States, Russia and Romania.

Watch: China on balance beam at Atlanta 1996

Watch the entire Chinese balance beam rotation from the 1996 Olympic Games ...