After an almost five-year hiatus, Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez made her big return to competition at Saturday’s 2021 Winter Cup meet with moves to remember — set to some pretty unforgettable music, too.
The 20-year-old gold and silver medalist hit the mat with a “Hamilton”-inspired floor routine.
Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.
Hernandez, who’s long made her love of musicals known, first told her fans that she was preparing for the Winter Cup by listening to “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack. But she changed her mind before the competition, later tweeting that she “switched to ‘Hamilton’” to get ready.
That turned out to be a hint at what was to come.
Halfway through her high-energy floor routine at the Indiana Convention Center, Hernandez’s montage of music hit a familiar note when the sounds of “The Room Where It Happens” from “Hamilton” rang out.
“Hey @Lin_Manuel @leslieodomjr, what do y’all think of my new floor routine,” she tweeted after she wrapped up.
And while “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t immediately respond, the man who brought Aaron Burr to life onstage and sang that very song had something to say about it.
Leslie Odom Jr. wrote, "You murda’d it! So damn impressive. Congratulations and thanks!"
Hernandez’s fans cheered her return on social media, too, with many using references to “Hamilton” and applauding her for not “throwin' away her shot.”
But the music wasn’t her only pop culture nod at Saturday’s event, in which she also competed on the balance beam. Her red, white and blue leotard was inspired by Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel” costume — and she plans to keep the superhero styles coming this year.
“I told some of y’all that my leos i designed for this year are all inspired by superheroes... here’s the first one!” she wrote on Instagram alongside photos of the look. She then asked Larson if she approved.
“Consider this comment my formal stamp of approval!!” Larson replied. “Watching and wishing you strength in your return!”
While Hernandez didn’t win with either routine — she placed 11th in floor and fifth on the beam — there’s no denying that she made a strong return after such a long break.
And that’s what she was aiming for.
“I’d like to see how (a meet) feels as an almost 21-year-old rather than competing at 16,” she told NBC Sports days before the event. “It’s going to be different, I’m well aware.”
She added that, “My first priority (at Winter Cup) is to go in and hit clean routines and show that I can be consistent. But my next one is to enjoy myself.”
With those goals, it seems like a win after all.
While Hernandez remained busy over the past five years by writing books, hosting “American Ninja Warrior Jr.,” voice acting and even competing on “Dancing With the Stars, she avoided gymnastics following her experience at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Last year, she opened up about her experiences with the coach she worked with to prepare for Rio, Maggie Haney, alleging that the coach verbally and emotionally abused her. A USA Gymnastics independent hearing panel banned Haney for eight years after determining she had violated their ethical code of conduct and safe sport policy.
In a post to Instagram last April, Hernandez wrote, “I thought I hated gymnastics, and it wasn’t until mid 2018 I realized that it was the people that made the experience bad, not the sport itself.”