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Meeting Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez

Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast, author and "Dancing With the

Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast, author and "Dancing With the Stars" champion Laurie Hernandez with Kidsday reporters Madelyn Tonyes, left, Nyah Medina, Anastasia Mezynieski and Aulis Carr-Smith at Book Revue in Huntington. Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

Laurie Hernandez is an American gymnast who is famous for winning gold and silver medals at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, writing two books and for winning “Dancing With the Stars” in 2016 She also has her own Barbie, which is fully posable, and the doll has curly dark brown hair just like her!

Laurie is an amazing young women who inspires me and I’m sure many other young girls!

We went to meet her in Huntington at Book Revue. We waited for her in the children’s section of the store. All four of us were nervous but very excited! Laurie was a very happy and a kind young woman. During the interview we were in the back room in the bookstore, this is where Laurie snuck in because a crowd was building in the front of the store.

Laurie has written two books: a children’s book called “She’s Got This,” which has just been published, and a chapter book, “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond.”  Laurie said, “Both books took a couple of months to write.” The children’s book is loosely based on the trials she faced in her early stages of being a gymnast.  Like Zoe in the story, Laurie hurt her knee, which was a huge setback for her, but she did not hurt it on the balance beam. We could even see the scar on her knee at the interview. At the end of the book she says, “It doesn’t matter how often you fall, but how often you get back up!” This is a great message that Laurie is giving. Laurie hopes that children look up to Zoe and see that Zoe did this.

We were curious why Laurie started writing.  She told us that she started writing when she was a little kid, and her mom always asked her if she was going to one day write a book. Laurie said that inspired her to keep writing.

Laurie is so busy, we were interested to know if she ever had time for family and friends. Laurie said she did have time. She saw her family when she got home from the gym at night and woke up with them in the morning. Her friends from the gym became her friends and she is still friends with many of them today.

When asked do you get recognized in public a lot and if you do, have you ever felt scared or unsafe?  Laurie said that it depends on the time of the day, in the morning she doesn’t get recognized a lot, but in the afternoon, she does! She said this is because in the afternoon the moms are at the stores with their daughters. She said she only feels unsafe when she has to say no to people who recognize her because sometimes they can get angry.  

Laurie said that she wanted to write a book so she could inspire younger children or even adults to not give up on their dreams. She also said that the struggles she went through inspired her to write the book.

When Laurie was a little girl, she watched the Olympics. She said she was inspired by Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin to be a gymnast. Laurie said she started gymnastics at the age of 5, and started competing at age 6. She added that she never gave up even when it didn’t go too well.

Laurie’s favorite place to travel to with her Olympics team was Japan and her favorite place to travel for fun is Greece.

Meeting Laurie Hernandez was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We felt extra special because we were able to meet Laurie in private while others were in the bookstore waiting for her autograph for hours. We will never forget this experience.

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