Team USA gymnast Laurie Hernandez told reporters that "if you want something go get it" – no matter heritage or ethnicity

By Rebecca Sloane and Lindsay Kimble
Updated July 15, 2016 06:10 PM
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Credit: Ian Terry/The Herald via AP

Laurie Hernandez is a go-getter and a Latina – but says that those things aren’t necessarily related.

Speaking to reporters Friday, the 16-year-old – who just nabbed a spot on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team – said her heritage doesn’t come into play when she’s on the beam.

“I think people are people, if you want something go get it,” says Hernandez. “I don’t think it matters what race you are. If you want to train hard enough to go to the Olympics, then you’re going to go out and you’re going to do it. It doesn’t matter what skin color or who you are.”

With that being said, the Puerto Rican athlete is still incredibly proud of who she is – and where she came from, especially as the first Latina gymnast on Team USA since 2004.

“I think it’s amazing that I can just go out there and be myself and the fact that I’m carrying Puerto Rico on my back a little bit is such an honor,” she explains.

As she heads to Rio this August, Hernandez tells reporters that her family will be by her side – in fact, they’ve been there since “day one.”

“Anything I did they were just like, ‘Okay we understand what you’re trying to go for, we understand that you’re training for the Olympics and we support you,’ ” she says. “Once I actually made it I’m pretty sure everybody started crying. ”

It’s been a long time coming, Hernandez says, and a total “dream come true” to round out the new fierce five – which also includes London Olympics individual all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas, 2012 Team U.S.A. vet Aly Raisman, four-time U.S. all-around gymnastics champion Simone Biles and 19-year-old Madison Kocian.

The women have become fast friends, Hernandez says. “Me and Simone are definitely really close, we’re always giggling – literally always,” she shares. “We have Aly, aka Mama Aly who is just naps all of the time and she kind of tells us what to do during practice. Madison is so sweet, she’s really quiet but we all click really well. Gabby is always laughing too, so that’s cool.”

Above everything else, Hernandez is just “super grateful.”

“I’ve wanted to go for a really long time.”

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