Hezly Rivera Is on Her Way to Paris Thanks in Part to Support From Her Parents

Hezly Rivera is the new name on this year's U.S. Gymnstics squad — and her parents helped her get there.


Jul. 1 2024, Published 5:41 p.m. ET

The 2024 Paris Olympics will have a few familiar faces when it comes to women's gymnastics. Most of the 2021 Tokyo team will be returning in 2024, but amidst all of those familiar faces, there's one newcomer who fans of the sport may be less familiar with. Hezly Rivera, who is just 16 years old, was the fifth qualifier for the team.

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Following the news that Hezley would be joining the likes of Suni Lee and Simone Biles on the team, many wanted to learn more about exactly who she was. And, because she's just 16 years old, they also wanted to learn more about exactly who her parents were.

Hezly Rivera at the US Olympic Trials.
Source: Getty Images
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Who are Hezly Rivera's parents?

Hezly has much less international experience than her teammates, but she currently lives and trains in Texas. She's originally from New Jersey, and her father, Henry Rivera, is originally from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Henry immigrated from the Dominican Republic to receive his education, and attended Union Hill High School in New Jersey, attended Stevens Institute of Technology, where he earned a degree in computer engineering in 2002.

What is Hezly Rivera's ethnicity?

Like her father, Hezly is Dominican. Hezly is also the older of the two siblings, and she started practicing gymnastics when she was six years old. Hezly used to train under Maggie Haney, who has trained Olympians in the past, but Maggie was suspended from training for five years for verbal and emotional abuse of her athletes.

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Maggie's suspension prompted Hezly's move, which now sees her training at WOGA under Valeri Liukin, who trained his daughter Nastia to the all-around title in 2008.

Following the announcement that Hezly had made the team, her father's reaction went viral on social media. While Hezly was calm and composed, Henry was in tears at the news.

Source: YouTube
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Hezly was not a favorite headed into qualifying.

While Hezly has now punched her ticket, she did not enter the weekend as one of the favorites to qualify for the team. In part because of her youth, and in part because of the other juggernauts in the field, she was seen as something of a long shot. Thanks to a number of injuries, though, a once strong pool of talent quickly became depleted, and Hezly emerged as the team's missing piece.

She has already received some backlash from some fans who believe that another athlete should have been chosen. While it may have seemed like she came from nowhere, though, Hezly is undoubtedly one of USA Gymnastics' rising stars.

For all the haters, though, there were plenty out there who were happy for Hezly and at the news that she had officially made the team.

"16 years old and you are already competing with the best, you are great Hezly!" one person wrote on her Instagram account.

Among those cheering her on in Paris are likely to be both of her parents, who are clearly incredibly proud of all their daughter has achieved.

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