Laurie Hernandez may have only joined rank as a certified, senior-level gymnast last March, but the 16-year-old was hitting the mats long before she was scoring Olympic gold.
In a recently resurfaced video first unearthed by FloGymnastics, a 9-year-old Hernandez can be seen completing a pristine level 4 floor routine. The young athlete packs leaps, splits, hand stands, and flips into an impressive one-minute performance.
According to U.S.A. gymnastics, level 4 is the first required competitive level. It mandates that gymnasts ages 7 and up complete a list of skills on floor, beam, bars, and vault.
Hernandez, who won gold at the team all-around in Rio last week, first ventured into gymnastics at 5 years old. “I started off doing dance and ballet, [but] it was pretty boring,” she told Teen Vogue in July. “Then I remember watching gymnastics on TV and telling my mom I wanted to do [that], and she put me right in.”
She soon began taking lessons at a gym in her hometown of Old Bridge, New Jersey, where she met current coach Maggie Haney. After concluding a successful junior career that landed her on the U.S. Junior National Team, Hernandez was offered NCAA eligibility to compete on the University of Florida Gators’ gymnastic team. She ultimately forewent the opportunity to pursue the sport on a professional level, announcing the news only days before making her Olympic debut at this year’s games.
“I am so proud and excited to announce that I’ve turned professional and given up my NCAA eligibility,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’m looking forward to continuing to represent USA at the highest level of gymnastics for several years to come! I really appreciate all the love and support from everyone around me.”
Hernandez will compete in the individual balance beam final Monday afternoon. Watch the video of her early routine above.