Laurie Hernandez has her eyes on the prize: Making the 2020 Olympic team. However, the gymnast admits the rise to fame during her 2016 debut, where she walked away with both Gold and Silver medals, wasn't easy.
During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Hernandez won gold in the team event and silver on the balance beam. But in an exclusive with PopCulture.com, the New Jersey native reveals her goal now is to make the 2020 team when they hit Tokyo, Japan for next summer's games.
"My personal goals: Well, the biggest one is definitely making the 2020 Olympic team," she told PopCulture.com. "We're still deciding on when that first comeback competition is going to be — but we know that our focus is going to be at the beginning of 2020."
She also mentioned that another goal of hers is to stay consistent and enjoy gymnastics to the point where she's fully confident in her routines.
The 19-year-old was in her mid-teens when she walked away from those winning moments that ultimately altered the course of her life, permanently.
"It has changed my life completely," she admitted. "Going from just being home, going to gymnastic practice, going to physical therapy, coming back home and doing that for about 11 years in a row to now traveling across the country and sometimes across the globe and being able to meet new people, meet new gymnasts, have all of these different opportunities."
"It's something that I had always wanted ever since I was a little kid, and now I have these opportunities and I'm trying to take advantage of them while I have them," she added.
It wasn't the easiest of transitions though. The gymnast admits that social media was a hard part of the process stepping into the spotlight.
"The hardest part, I think, [is] I just know that once my head is in the game with something, I'm there, and I'm all in and I'm excited to do it, and that has led to a lot of really neat things," she said. "Honestly, social media has played a really big role in the ups and downs of the last couple of years. When people are able to hide behind the screen and share their opinions that can be really interesting to hear, especially when you're a blooming and growing teenager who's literally growing and hitting puberty in the public eye is something that can be a little difficult."
She adds that as long as one can rely on their "inner circle" and those that care about you, the rest is "really easy to navigate through all of that."
Something else that the Olympian admits helped her through the process is her mantra: "I can, I will," and "I got this."
Hernandez entered her second year partnership with Alcon — the global leader in eye care — to launch a campaign that's close to her heart: Eye Can, Eye Will.
"In 2016, I had mantras that I would say to myself like, 'I got this' [and] 'I can do this,' and now going to Eyecaneyewill.com, you can create your own mantra, and that make me so happy because now we get to spread that positivity to others and I'd love them to have those mantras I did."
Hernandez says she's been wearing contact lenses since she was 12 years old, so partnering with them only made sense.0comments
Until 2020 is here, Hernandez will continue to train with hopes of getting a second chance at another gold medal.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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