Laurie Hernandez’ journey on Dancing with the Stars


From the moment she was announced as a cast member on this year’s season of Dancing with the Stars, the hype was big for gold medal-winning Olympian Laurie Hernandez. After all, she had killer moves on the balance beam — why wouldn’t she be equally epic on the dance floor?

And from week 1, she was.

Doing a cha cha to Bonnie McKee’s “American Girl,” Hernandez and her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, earned a 31/40, tying with James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess for the highest score of the night.

The next week, she and Chmerkovskiy upped their score by a point, to 32, with a jive to the theme of Duck Tales. It was again the highest score of the night.

On week 3, it was a tango for which they scored an impressive 31 points. However, they failed to nab the top spot on the leaderboard for the first time, coming in a point short to Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold.

For Cirque de Soleil night, Hernandez and Chmerkovskiy did a near-perfect jazz routine to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” The judges loved it — so much so, they gave the pair the season’s first perfect score.

Next, the two danced to Katy Perry’s Olympic anthem “Rise” in honor of Hernandez’s incredibly memorable year. It was a tough week for Hernandez — doing her first-ever paso doble — and she and Chmerkovskiy took a bit of a score dip, down to 25/30. It was hardly a bump in the road for this power couple, however.

For Latin night, it was back to their tip-top scores: 37/40 for a salsa.

Hernandez and Chmerkovskiy “went to prom” together — and back to the 1960s — for decades week with a quickstep. It didn’t score quite as highly as they would have liked: two 8s and two 9s. But hey, she got to go to the prom, and that counts for something!

Halloween was celebrated on Dancing with the Stars with a waltz from the pair. It went off without a hitch, earning the couple their second perfect score of the entire competition.

She may be just 16 years old, but Hernandez can “Cell Block Tango” with the best of them, as her scores proved: four 10s!

And before we knew it, it was semifinal time. Hernandez and Chmerkovskiy did two dances: the first, a foxtrot, and the second, a samba. Even more impressive? They managed to pull off two perfect scores — despite the sad news that Hernandez lost her grandmother to Alzheimer’s disease that week.

After that emotional performance, Hernandez is off to the finals — and is sure to shine just as bright there as she has all season long.

Tatyana McFadden wins 4th Straight “Grand Slam”

NBC New York

Tatyana McFadden has swept the four major marathons for the fourth straight year by winning the New York City Marathon women’s wheelchair race. The 27-year-old American finished Sunday with an unofficial time of 1 hour, 47 minutes, 43 seconds. She again completed the Grand Slam by winning in London, Boston, Chicago and New York, extending her record streak to 17 straight wins in major marathons. 

McFadden, who won six medals at the Rio Paralympics, took the lead for good at the 15-mile mark and comfortably led the rest of the course to win for the fifth time in New York.

Daryl Homer Wons First Individual World Cup Medal!


Daryl Homer is on a roll. Less than three months after earning the men’s saber silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the two-time Olympian claimed his first individual world cup medal Saturday by winning bronze at the event in Dakar, Senegal.

Ranked No. 8 in the world, Homer began his march to the bronze by dispatching Frenchmen Remi Senegas (15-13) and Edward Barloy (15-11). That set up an encounter with world No. 4 Dario Cavaliere of Italy, a match that went to Homer by a 15-10 mark and advanced the 2015 world championship silver medalist to the quarterfinals, where he downed Bolade Apithy of France, 15-13.

His semifinal opponent, Italy’s Enrico Berré, came to the tournament ranked No. 39, but a victory over world No. 1 Junghwan Kim showed that he was not an opponent to take lightly. While each of Homer’s previous bouts were extended affairs with opponents scoring in double digits before falling, Berré’s road was shorter, with three of his four foes failing to score 10 points. With more time to rest, Berré’s fresher legs were the difference as he downed Homer 15-12 to advance to the final, where he fell to world No. 3 Vincent Anstett of France, 15-11. The other bronze went to Luca Curatoli of Italy.

Shawn Johnson Speaks On Success at NC State

Former Olympic gymnast and gold medalist Shawn Johnson paid a visit to the Wolfpack to deliver a speech about the value of determination and self worth on Monday in Stewart Theatre.

Johnson, who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, spoke to a packed crowd, highlighting her experiences with success and failure as an olympic athlete. At 16, she was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, as well as being team captain and the favorite to win gold in the main events. When she ended up taking home silver in three of her four events, earning gold only in the balance beam, Johnson said that many people behaved as though she had failed. 
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘If you can’t win the gold medal, at least go out there and show them that you deserved it,’” Johnson said.

She settled around the theme of coming to terms with accomplishments and failures and reconciling them with the perception the broader public may have of them. Johnson’s advice to the audience was to remain passionate about whatever subject they decide to take on and not let other’s perceptions come to be what defines them.

“I was trying to live up to an image and expectations that people put on me,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t up until I was 19, 20, 21 that I started to figure out, I don’t care what you have to offer or what you want me to be, I’m going to be who I want and I’m going to do the things I want because that is what will make me most proud.”

Johnson also discussed her experiences in the pop culture spotlight as a contestant in shows such as “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Apprentice,” the latter being a show hosted by current Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump. While she refrained from making any political commentary regarding her position on Trump, she did say that her experiences with him were always pleasant.

“I had leading up to being on ‘The Apprentice’ some of the rumors surrounding [Trump],” Johnson said. “I got to see him interacting with his family, and he was always incredibly nice and polite to me.”

NC State students attending the event seemed enthusiastic about Johnson’s visit, as many recognized her from her from both her time as an Olympian and a reality TV star. Caroline Spencer, a freshman majoring in exploratory studies, said that she was excited to see Johnson speak.

“I loved watching her in the Olympics; I’m a big fan,” Spencer said.

James Vislocky, a senior studying paper science and engineering, said that while he was in attendance to earn points for his fraternity at homecoming, he was excited to see the former gymnast.

“Everything she’s done has been impressive,” Vislocky said.

After her speech ended, Johnson took the time to field questions from the audience. Questions ranged from people who said they inspired her and wanted to know her secrets to success, to members asking the happily married former gymnast to be their date to formal.

Johnson’s main message to the crowd was to be proud of each of their accomplishments, saying that the moment that many would point to as a failure in her career was one of her proudest moments. 

“If I had to turn in one of my medals, I would give up the gold before I gave up that silver,” Johnson said.