Hillary Clinton mentioned Olympic champion Laurie Hernandez among nine Hispanic stars — from civil rights activists to Gloria Estefan — while speaking at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute on Thursday.
“Today, as you know, we’re in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month,” the presidential candidate said (at the 5:30 mark here). “In classrooms across America, children will study Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, Julian and Joaquin Castro, Justice Sotomayor, Roberto Clemente and Laurie Hernandez, Gloria Estefan and Lin-Manuel Miranda and countless others.”
Hernandez, 16, might have missed the name drop as she was performing at the first stop of a post-Olympic USA Gymnastics tour in Spokane, Wash., on Thursday night.
Her star has skyrocketed in the last year. Hernandez was barely on the Olympic radar at the start of summer 2015. Still a junior gymnast, Hernandez won the P&G Championships all-around title that August and then moved up to the senior ranks at the start of 2016.
Hernandez finished second to Simone Biles in the all-around at the U.S. Olympic Trials in July. She was a candidate to compete in the all-around at the Rio Games, but Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas filled the three available qualifying spots. Hernandez’s minor abdominal injury may have made the difference in the selection.
No matter, Hernandez went on to take balance beam silver. She may be destined for more medals if she competes at the 2017 World Championships, given Raisman and Biles are going to be taking significant time off, and it’s unknown if or when Douglas will return.
Hernandez, who turned professional before the Rio Games, is currently competing on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Other names in Clinton’s speech sentence have Olympic sports ties. Estefan’s “Reach” was an official song of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and she performed at the Closing Ceremony. She also performed at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games Closing Ceremony.
Then there’s Clemente. Before he became a Hall of Fame baseball player, the Puerto Rican was a javelin prodigy, such a throwing talent that there was talk he could make the 1952 Olympic team at age 17, according to Sports Illustrated.Follow @nzaccardi