It’s hard to imagine a year better than 2016 for Laurie Hernandez.
The teenage gymnast nabbed a spot on the U.S. Olympic team and rocketed to international fame after winning gold with the “Final Five” in Rio, in addition to an individual silver medal on balance beam. Just a few weeks later, she arrived in Los Angeles to compete on Dancing With the Stars with Val Chmerkovskiy and won the show after being a standout performer from the first week.
She released her first book, I Got This, in January, embarked on the Dancing with the Stars tour with the professional cast, and has been jetting off for appearances and partnerships. The most recent highlight: Teaming up with her mom, Wanda Hernandez, for the Febreze for Walmart campaign video.
“Life has been a really big whirlwind, but it’s been a lot of fun,” she says. “I travel so much, and I’m constantly doing things that I love, but it’s just me. So being able to do this with my mom, it’s really special.”
Wanda has been a grounding force for Hernandez throughout her life, including the high-pressure moments in her gymnastics career.
“She taught me to be grateful for every moment,” says Laurie. “There was one competition where I fell multiple times, and it was a really big meet. She just said, ‘Look at where you are, let’s celebrate.’ And we got ice cream.”
It’s a pattern for Hernandez and her mom: When she’s too tough on herself, her mother reminds her to have patience.