Laurie Hernandez of the United States competes on the uneven bars during Day 2 of the 2016 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships at Xfinity Arena on April 9, 2016 in Everett, Washington.

photo: Getty
Before each performance at the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics trials in Everett, Washington, this past weekend, gymnast Laurie Hernandez prayed. This is how the 16-year-old rising star kept her cool and delivered breathtaking and phenomenal routines this past weekend — and it worked
Hernandez will be one of the youngest athletes that will be competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. She'll also become the second U.S.-born Latina to ever compete in the U.S. women’s gymnastics Olympic team since Tracee Talavera at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. 

Despite Hernandez' incredible achievements this weekend, this young woman isn't an overnight success. She's been inching her way toward the Olympics for several years now.

She started gymnastics at 5 years old.

"My earliest memory was watching gymnastics on live TV, and wanting to do what the 'big girls' did," Hernandez told NBC. "I started a gymnastics class at five years old, but it became serious at seven." 

By 9 years old, Hernandez caught the eye of Maggie Haney, her now long-time coach. According to ESPNW, when Haney’s contact at USA Gymnastics looked up Hernandez’s TOPs score, she said, "Oh, she's the No. 1 TOPs kid in the country."

The Hernandez family, from New Brunswick, New Jersey, have always been supportive of Laurie's goals.

Her family have handed their daughter to me," Laurie's coach told the Guardian. "They tell me, ‘You tell us where and when and we’ll get her there,’ and if they can’t then I get her there myself. They’re just a positive, happy family who have given me the responsibility of mentoring their youngest daughter.”

Wanda Hernandez, Laurie's mom, hopes that her talented daughter will be an inspiration for other Latinas that are interested in the sport. “It means a lot to our family,” Wanda told the Guardian. “As it can open doors to other young Latina girls that would like to try gymnastics.” 

And, as a second-generation Puerto Rican, Laurie is extremely proud of her roots. 

"Si Dios lo quiere (If God wishes), to represent the US as the only Latina gymnast would be such an honor,” Laurie said. “I feel I could be a role model to other Hispanic gymnasts interested in the sport but I also want them to understand the importance of being focused, determined, and not giving up, despite all the struggles.”

Laurie's charismatic performances and beautiful personality is already gaining her a new crop of fans that just cannot get enough of her charm.

International Gymnast Magazine called Hernandez a "Human emoji" and the gymnastics podcast, Gymcastic, nicknamed her "baby Shakira." here's probably why: 

She has so much energy!

Here's the stellar performance that we can't stop watching.

Because of this amazing routine, Laurie earned her spot alongside her U.S.A. gymnastics team: Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and Madison Kocian.