Local Gymnast Wins Winter Cup Gold Medals


Hezly Rivera | Image by USA Gymnastics

On Sunday, local gymnast Hezly Rivera took home the three gold medals in the junior women’s division at the USA Gymnastics Winter Cup in Louisville, Kentucky.

Rivera, who practices at the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) in Plano, finished first overall with a total score of 53.350 after winning the competition’s beam and floor exercise portions.

At 14 years old, Rivera says her goal is to one day represent the United States in the Olympics, according to USA Gymnastics.

USA Gymnastics told The Dallas Express that Rivera’s 1.050-point margin of victory is considered a “significant margin” in gymnastics. She won the competition despite falling during the uneven bars, her last event of the day.

All gymnasts who finished in the top five for the junior women’s meet were within 1.300 points of first place.

Rivera’s overall score and beam score were higher than the senior competition’s winners. However, the organization did note that the senior competitors are just beginning their seasons, whereas juniors are deeper into their seasons.

Rivera has been competing in gymnastics since 2013 and finished in the top three at six meets, according to the USA Gymnastics website.

Her performance qualifies her to compete on the U.S. team at the 2023 FIG Junior World Championships in Antalya, Turkey, next month.

In the competition, Rivera beat defending champion Jayla Hang (Bellevue, Washington) and Kieryn Finnell (Pittsford, New York).

Hang (52.300) also qualified for the Junior World Championships after winning the bars and vault competitions and taking second place in Louisville.

Finnell finished with a 52.250 overall score.

According to the WOGA website, the gym has helped its athletes receive 131 college scholarships and win 36 World and Olympic medals. Some of its past athletes include Olympic champions Nastia Liukin, Carly Patterson, and Madison Kocian.

Skye Blakely, who won the 2023 senior women’s beam event this weekend, also trains at WOGA.

Lexi Zeiss, an alternate for the 2022 Senior World Championships, won the 2023 senior meet.

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