Laurie Hernandez talks Rio Olympic memories, Tokyo plans with Mike Tirico

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Gymnast Laurie Hernandez last competed at the Rio Olympics. She must wait a bit longer to return with the Tokyo Games postponed to 2021.

“I can adapt to it pretty quick,” Hernandez told Mike Tirico on “Lunch Talk Live” on NBCSN on Monday. “I think that year really threw a lot of athletes off, even though we can all agree it’s the safest for the world. Even still then, my goal is still to make the Olympic team. It’s still a big dream of mine.”

Hernandez, now 19, took two full years off after earning gold and silver medals in Rio. The New Jersey native won “Dancing with the Stars,” then moved to a new gym in California with a bold goal — to make the world’s strongest Olympic gymnastics team going more than three years between competitions.

“Taking those two years off after Rio was, I think, really important,” said Hernandez, the youngest female U.S. Olympian across all sports in Rio. “I got to travel. I got to meet a lot of new people and see about all the things that I really liked, only for it to come full circle and for me to come around a second time.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic halted sports, Hernandez’s plan was to return to competition this spring. Since 2004, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman are the only U.S. female gymnasts to make back-to-back Olympic teams. Douglas and Raisman returned to competition more than one year before their second Olympics.

Depending on when sports resume, Hernandez could get a bit of a cushion to shake off any competition rust.

She’s still reflective, though, cherishing that Rio Olympic experience. Hernandez said she will go live on Instagram on Monday night to coincide with NBCSN Olympic Week’s broadcast of the 2016 Olympic women’s team final. A full TV and live stream schedule for Olympic Week is here.

When thinking of those three weeks in Rio, that’s what first comes to mind.

“I think of how tight we all were,” Hernandez said. “I feel a lot of pride.”

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