Meet the Olympic Gymnast Who Puts Jesus Before Gymnastics

At 16, gymnast Laurie Hernandez is the youngest member of the 2016 USA Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team, and her nickname, “The Human Emoji” also pegs her as the most expressive. Hernandez is known for her joyous facial expressions throughout her routines, and you don’t have to dig too far for information on Hernandez to find out where that joy comes from: Hernandez is outspoken about her Christian faith.

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Laurie Hernandez snaps a selfie at the USA Gymnastics Olympic Trials. Photo: Laurie Hernandez on Instagram.

In a recent interview with the Christian sports organization Athletes in Action just before this month’s Olympic trials, Hernandez (who, though the youngest, came in 3rd overall) talked about whether or not she’d make the team, saying, “If I make it that would be amazing, but if I don’t then that’s a different path that God wants me to take, and I know that there are better and great things that God wants me to do.”

Hernandez is from New Jersey; her family originally hails from Puerto Rico, so though she’s not a 2nd-generation American (as Puerto Rico is a US territory and all Puerto Ricans ARE Americans), she is 2nd-generation to grow up on the main land U.S. Her Latin heritage rounds out the most ethnically diverse USA Gymnastics team ever, one she’s thrilled to be a part of.

“As a little kid this is all I ever wanted,” she told Athletes in Action.

But Hernandez knows even her years of hard work and training aren’t enough to ensure success in Rio; at the end of the day, she says, she knows God is in control.

“I feel that everyday God molds me into someone that he wants me to be. So if that means just, like talking to teammates and helping them out, or like every so often I’ll post a Bible verse on Twitter or Instagram. … There was one that I posted recently and I’m thinking it’s my favorite verse. It’s Proverbs 31:25

“She is clothed with dignity and strength and she laughs without fear of the future.”

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Photo: Laurie Hernandez on Instagram

“When I hear that, that’s me in a Bible verse. I don’t fear the future anymore.”

I don’t know about you, but I am a COMPLETE “Olympaholic” and I’m so excited to see Team USA compete in gymnastics! I’m pretty stoked that Hernandez is taking her faith to Rio with her an I pray God will use her to influence not only other athletes, but people all around the world who are watching her. Please join me in praying for the safety and success of all of our athletes, and GO Team USA!

Check out Laurie’s amazing floor routine from the Pacific Rim Championships earlier this year and get excited for Rio!

Featured image credit: Screenshots, Team USA Gymnastics on YouTube

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.