Planoite Hezly Rivera joins Olympic Gymnastics Team

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

On June 30, 16-year-old Planoite Hezly Rivera was announced as a member of the 2024 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team

According to USA Gymnastics, Rivera began the sport at the age of 5 after going to a children’s birthday party at a nearby gymnastics facility in her home state of New Jersey. From there, she was hooked. 

Eventually, her family moved to Plano from New Jersey to train at WOGA under Valeri and Anna Liukin, who are known for training Olympic veterans like Nastia Liukin and Madison Kocian as well as Gabby Douglas, who is injured and unable to participate this year.

Just five years later, Rivera began participating in national competitions and wracking up medals:

  • 2018 Hopes Classic – 1st Floor Exercise, 4th Vault and Uneven Bar and 6th All Around
  • 2018 GK Hopes Championships – 3rd Floor Exercise and 5th Vault
  • 2022 Winter Cup – 3rd All Around, 6th Uneven Bar and 8th Vault
  • 2022 U.S. Classic – 1st Balance Beam, 2nd All Around and 4th Vault
  • 2022 OOFOS U.S. Gymnastics Championships – 3rd Floor Exercise, 6th All Around and Uneven Bar
  • 2023 Winter Cup – 1st All Around, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise, 4th Vault, 7th Uneven bar
  • 2023 Core Hydration Classic – 6th Uneven Bar
  • 2023 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships – 1st All Around, Uneven Bar, Balance Beam and 5th Vault
  • 2024 Winter Cup – 1st Balance Beam, 3rd All Around and Floor Exercise
  • 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships – 4th Balance Beam, 5th Uneven Bar and 6th All Around
  • 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – 1st Balance Beam, 4th Uneven Bar, 5th All Around and 8th Floor Exercise

Rivera—who, according to NBC, considers herself an “underdog”—was not regarded as a clear favorite to join the US team this year. The average age of a gymnastics medalist at the most recent summer games in Tokyo, according to The Washington Post, was 20.6. Her competition included four returning Olympians in Simone Biles, Jade Carey, Suni Lee and Jordan Chiles, making her chance at a spot more cutthroat. Only one spot remained for all the other Olympic aspirants, including Skye Blakely and Kayla DiCello, who both outscored Rivera in the 2024 Winter Cup in February. However, Rivera took advantage of her chance when DiCello and Blakely both suffered Achilles injuries.

Rivera along with her teammates. Photo courtesy of USA Gymnastics

Rivera joins four veteran Olympians on the team, becoming the youngest member of this year’s team.

“I definitely love competing with the senior crowd and all the seniors,” Rivera said to NBC 5 Los Angeles. “You know, they’re all so sweet and supportive and always cheering you on, and the energy is just so big. So I really love that.”


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