With the 2016 Rio Olympics in full swing, and one of the most popular events coming to a head, gymnast Laurie Hernandez has a big performance coming up in the Women's Gymnastics finals. The pressure would be huge for anyone, and you would especially think so for someone so young. But for the 16-year-old, the competition just feels like another day at the gym between the fun she has competing and the simplicity with which she carries herself. So, how could someone so young have such a mature and fun outlook on something as serious as the Olympics? The simple answer is Laurie's parents, Wanda and Anthony Hernandez, help her ease the pressure.
Hernandez's Instagram is filled with the most fun moments from her gymnastic-filled life, from before the Olympics to competing in them. She's most likely the silly one, the dancing one, or the first one hugging her teammate after a rotation. In an interview with ESPN, she spoke about the relationship she has with her parents, and the relationship her parents have with the sport she loves:
"My parents have tried not to intrude. They kind of stayed apart from my gymnastics but are very supportive, and that's very helpful as a gymnast to not have your parents say, 'Did you do this today?' and just be very on top of you. I think it helps a lot that they're laid back, and [I] just get to come home to open arms."
As a former athlete, I completely agree that this is truly the most important thing a parent can do: support and understand that the sport you love is going to take over your life. "I don't want to learn her routines," Hernandez's mother, Wanda, told ESPN. "I want to enjoy her for being my daughter. I see the potential and what she has, but I'm a mom and I'm going to see it through a mom's eyes."
As for Hernandez's maturity, she grew up the youngest child of three, following around her older brother, 20, and sister, 27, and growing up just as fast as them. "[Laurie] can be very mature and disciplined when the occasion demands it," Wanda continued, "but what I love about her is her great sense of humor and ability to make light of things." Preach.
With Hernandez's decision to be a professional gymnast only a week ago, and giving up her NCAA eligibility and her dream of attending University of Florida, you can bet her parents and family were right there with her to support her big life decision. Whatever Hernandez's future holds after the Olympics, if she competes in the 2020 Games or decides to go to college after all, her maturity can only get so far before she has to go home for a little strength from the arms and hearts of her family.