Laurie Hernandez is officially an Olympic champion after Team USA’s women’s gymnastics team smoked the competition in the team finals. For a 16-year-old who hasn’t competed much in the big leagues, it’s amazing the level of trust placed in Hernandez. The youngest member of the “Final Five” (the nickname they gave themselves based on the fact that for the next Olympics the team sizes have been reduced to four) contributed to the gold with performances in the floor exercise, balance beam, and vault. The result never seemed to be in question as Hernandez and teammates Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and Madison Kocian took the lead after one event and never looked back, finishing eight points clear of second place Russia.
You would expect some pressure, as Hernandez performed the lead-off vault as Team USA kicked off its final. But she was unfazed and scored a solid 15.1 with this vault.
Though her floor exercise is what has made her a star to hardcore and casual gymnastics fans, her beam work has also been strong. In fact, Hernandez could be a strong contender for gold in the event. In the team final, she almost matched her performance from qualifying with a 15.233. Teammate Biles’ performance on beam only topped Hernandez by less than tenth of a point.
But of course, what everyone wants to see is Hernandez’s personality shining on the floor exercise, and she knew right away she was going to deliver. She playfully winked before electrifying the crowd again, just like she has every time she’s done her floor routine.
Hernandez will now compete in the balance beam final. After the Olympics, she will turn pro instead of competing at the University of Florida. We can’t blame her considering the NCAA stinks and she deserves to get that paper.
Relive her best moments below: