Plano's Hezly Rivera becomes youngest member of Team USA headed to Paris Olympics

At 16 years and 26 days, Hezly Rivera from Plano is the youngest person on Team USA headed to the Paris Olympics

NBC Universal, Inc.

Hezly Rivera has realized her childhood dream. After the U.S. Olympic Trials in gymnastics, she found out that she would be part of the five-woman Olympic team.

“So many emotions. I was happy and excited,” Rivera said.

Rivera trains at WOGA in Plano (World Olympics Gymnastics Academy) where she is among the world's greatest gymnasts.

“I am so grateful to be here and to be selected on this Olympic team. I have made so many sacrifices to get here, so I want to thank God, my coaches, family, my friends, and my teammates. I just can’t believe that I am here,” Rivera said.

The team headed to the Paris Olympics includes 37-time Olympic and World medalist Simone Biles, reigning Olympic all-around champion Suni Lee, Olympic floor exercise gold medalist Jade Carey, Olympic team silver medalist Jordan Chiles, and two-time 2023 Junior World silver medalist and 2024 Winter Cup balance beam champion Rivera, who at 16 years and 26 days old is currently the youngest member of all sports in the Team USA delegation headed to the 2024 Olympic Games.

Hezly Rivera and Simone Biles
A young Hezly Rivera meets Simone Biles for the first time. (Heidy Ruiz)

Even though she is the youngest on the team, she said she had to think like a veteran throughout the competition.

“I thought of it as every other meet. Just going out there and doing my thing, basically doing what I do in the gym. I was just thinking it's just me and my beam or just me and the bar. I try to calm myself down beforehand. I [was thinking] I’m like the underdog, and there wasn’t so much pressure on me, which was probably a good thing. I just went out there and did my thing,” Rivera said.

It’s not lost on her the amount of talent on the team.

“I think it's super comforting. They have already been through it. They have been through the journey and the Olympic Games. I think they will be able to mentor me. Not just at the Games, but in terms of training. I think that will be great help for me. The roster is amazing. They are all incredible and contribute so much to the team, which I am so happy about. I can’t believe that I am part of this team as well,” Rivera said.

She said she still can’t believe that in 2021, she was sitting at her house and in the gym watching the Tokyo Olympics, saying she wanted to be on that team. Now, she is here.

“I could not have imagined that and I am just so excited and never would have thought that would have happened. Bars and beam are what I can contribute to the team. So when I hit bars and beam I knew that I had a shot,” Rivera said.

Her father was visibly emotional when her name was called as a member of the gymnastics team. Rivera wasn’t surprised, considering how much her family had supported her. They moved from New Jersey to Plano so that she could train at WOGA and have the best chance of making an Olympic team.

“He [my dad] has been with me since the beginning and always been supporting me since I was little. It’s been so amazing having a father like him. He is my hero, my rock and always pushes me to do my best. And always comforting when things get rough,” Rivera said.

The USA Gymnastics delegation headed to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France, was announced Sunday.

Contact Us