Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez says winning “Dancing with the Stars” was on a par with winning gold and silver medals at this year’s Summer Games.
“It felt amazing,” the 16-year-old said on “Good Morning America” Wednesday, after she and professional dancer Val Chmerkovskiy won the Mirrorball Trophy the night before. “I mean, I had that same joy as I had at the Olympics. It was such an accomplishing moment,” she said of being the youngest person to win “DWTS.” “It was exciting.”
When “GMA” co-host Robin Roberts pointed out what a year Hernandez has had — winning the 23rd season of “DWTS” as well as taking home a gold medal as part of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team plus a silver medal in the individual balance beam — Hernandez replied, “There’s a lot that went on,” adding, “I’m so grateful.
“I think she brings out in me what she brings out in millions of people,” Chmerkovskiy, 30, told “GMA.” “It’s like this youthful joy and a sense of gratitude. To see that in a young person is very inspiring for anybody.” He added, “She’s really special and I wanted to do a good job for her, and I hope I did.”
Last season’s winner, model Nyle DiMarco, tweeted his good wishes after their win, writing, “CONGRATS [Laurie] AND [Val} MY MAN!!!! Kinda glad y’all weren’t on my season.” Gold medalist Shawn Johnson — herself the youngest “DWTS” champion when she won season 8 at age 17 — said on social media, “Laurie Hernandez. I love you and I couldn’t possibly be any prouder. You showed the world your heart and they fell in love. Congratulations lady..... ENJOY THAT MIRROR BALL!”
Hernandez’s four Olympics teammates chimed in as well. “Congrats to my girl,” tweeted Gabby Douglas. “I was on a [plane] so I watched you win on [YouTube]! You were amazing and I’m sooooo happy for you!” Alexandra Raisman tweeted she was “so proud,” while Simone Biles wrote, “CONGRATS BABE . . . so incredibly proud of you! ILOVEYOU.” Madison Kocian, while not tweeting Wednesday, had posted an Instagram image the day before of herself and Hernandez, urging the public to “VOTE for Laurie on DWTS . . . wishing you all the best!! Love you & your crazy self.”
“Thank you, [Val] for making this an incredible experience,” Hernandez wrote on Instagram Wednesday. “DWTS tour here I come.”