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New Jersey Native Hezley Rivera Qualifies for the 2024 Olympic Gymnastics Team

Photo: @hezrivera (Hezley Rivera) on Instagram

New Jersey is where legendary musicians, amazing food and star athletes rise from the shadows, giving the state a great reputation no one can deny. 

Hezley Rivera qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games on Sunday. Rivera was raised in Oradell, New Jersey but moved to Plano, Texas to train at WOGA (World Olympics Gymnastics Academy Gymnastics) where she is coached by Anna and Valeri Liukin, parents of Nastia Liukin, the 2008 Olympic All Around Champion.

“So many emotions. I was happy and excited,” Rivera told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth after she made the team. 

Rivera is only 16-years-old, making her the youngest on the USA Gymnastics team. Among the rest of her achievements, she was the 2023 U.S. Junior Olympic All-Around Champion and the 2024 Winter Cup balance beam champion and all-around and floor exercise bronze medalist, according to USA Gym

Most young children are put into gymnastics classes for fun, and so they can get their energy out. Rivera’s introduction to gymnastics was at the age of 5-years-old when she was at a friend’s birthday party at a gym and one of the coaches spotted her talent, encouraging her parents to enroll her in classes. Now a little over 10 years later, she is on her way to becoming the future of USA Gymnastics. 

Training at WOGA, she has shared a gym with the greatest gymnasts of all time. Being coached by the Liukin’s gives her an extreme advantage over other athletes, especially training with former Olympians like Gabby Douglas, a 2012 gold medalist. “It’s nice to have an older gymnast who has experienced all of it,” she told “They know everything. It’s amazing.”

On the team with her in Paris are experts, Simone Biles, Jade Carey, Suni Lee and Jordan Chiles, all who have competed in the games years prior. 

“I mean, she can’t even drive. Should we teach her how to drive before she gets to Paris? Jeez! She’s so young. She’s so cute. She’s so smart. She’s beautiful,” Biles told The Washington Post. “We’re really proud of her for making this team, and we’re really excited to kind of show her the ropes. At least she doesn’t have to do it alone. She has four veterans that have been there before.”

Rivera told People that her original goal was to shoot for the 2028 Olympic team, and she met that goal four years early. “I think that was before this meet happened,” speaking about the Olympic Trials on Sunday. “I think this was a stepping stone for me to just get out here and do my job.” 

The 2024 Paris Olympic Games opening ceremony is scheduled for July 26.


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