Laurie Hernandez’s new normal: training 2,000 miles from her coaches


Laurie Hernandez wanted to be with family during the coronavirus pandemic, which meant moving across the country.

Hernandez, the Rio Olympian coming back for a Tokyo Games bid, flew from her training base in Orange County, Calif., to her native New Jersey about four months ago. She’s been training at a Garden State gym, though her primary coaches aren’t with her.

She called the situation “kind of weird” on an “On Her Turf” virtual athlete panel with fellow Olympians Sydney McLaughlin, Ibtihaj Muhammad and Breanna StewartErin Lim, host of “The Rundown” on E!’s Snapchat, moderated the panel.

“People that are overseeing here are absolutely wonderful,” Hernandez said. “I kind of miss that dynamic [in California], but again it’s a new normal, and I also know that I’m very privileged because I have a place to go.”

Hernandez, a gold and silver medalist in Rio, was the youngest U.S. female Olympian across all sports at age 16. She took a break from competition after the Olympics, won “Dancing with the Stars” and began her comeback in earnest in 2019, attending her first U.S. national team camp since the Rio Games in November.

She planned to return to competition this spring, before the pandemic halted sports and postponed the Olympics to 2021.

“It’s definitely really helpful, I’m not gonna lie,” Hernandez said. “The extra year actually gives me a lot more time to train and add some upgrades and maybe get a little more consistent on things that I wasn’t too sure about for this year.”

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