Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez committed to competing on the popular reality television show Dancing with the Stars soon after returning from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Hernandez was paired with professional dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy (known as Val on the show). They quickly dubbed their team “Team Valaur” and were equally excited to be placed together for the show.
The pair’s premiere dance was a rousing success, scoring the highest point total of the night. Team Valaur looks to be the team to beat as the show kicks off. There will be more challenges ahead, but Hernandez may have a long run in the competition ahead of her.
Hernandez in the Olympics
As the youngest member of the 2016 United States Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team, 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez hails from New Jersey. Nicknamed the “Human Emoji” for her constantly emotive spirit, she performed spectacularly for the U.S. at the Olympics. As a team member, Hernandez garnered a gold medal for the team all-around competition.
Beating fellow team member Simone Biles, Hernandez also won silver for her individual performance on balance beam. Fans around the world were delighted by her energetic floor routine, seen in the team all-around competition, as well as her generous spirit. Hernandez was consistently seen encouraging and cheering on her fellow teammates in their events.
Previous Olympians on DWTS
A commitment to Dancing with the Stars was not altogether unexpected for at least one of the Final Five as they returned from Rio. Many other gymnasts and Olympians have continued their journeys by competing on the show.
Fellow Final Five member Aly Raisman competed on the show in 2013, finishing fourth with her partner Mark Ballas. Nastia Liukin, a competitor in the 2008 Olympic Games, also finished in fourth place on her season with partner Derek Hough.
Most successful of gymnasts to be on the show was Shawn Johnson, who competed at the 2008 Olympics with Liukin. She scored a first place finish for her first run on the show, partnered with Mark Ballas. Invited back for the All-Stars competition several years later, she finished second.
Looking ahead to Hernandez’s run on the show, her successful first performance seems to mean that she may be as successful as the Olympians who have come before her.
Hernandez turned professional shortly before arriving in Rio for the Olympics, giving up a commitment to complete at the collegiate level of gymnastics. While she admits it was a difficult decision, Hernandez feels it was the right one. She is taking advantage of all that being a professional gymnast offers, such as her time on Dancing with the Stars, and many other public appearances.
Her bright demeanor will be a big asset to many companies as they covet her for sponsorships. Her smile made it fitting that one of her first endorsements was Crest toothpaste. As she progresses through her career, there is no doubt that her bubbly personality will carry her far.
Americans enjoyed watching Hernandez compete and were immediately drawn to her. As she competes on Dancing with the Stars, they will have many more opportunities to cheer Laurie on toward victory.
Many hope that Hernandez’s next official announcement will confirm plans for training for the Olympics in 2020. She would, without a doubt, be a favorite for the new four-member team headed to Tokyo.