Olympic gymnasts Laurie Hernandez and Jordyn Wieber, and renowned gymnastics coach Desiree Sanchez are heading to the Mediterranean on an Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE) tour. The tour will be visiting U.S. military installations throughout Spain and Italy, May 16th through May 24th.
U.S. service members and their families will have the chance to interact with the world-class gymnasts during meet and greets and youth gymnastics clinics. The clinics, coached by Hernandez, Wieber and Sanchez will include tips and training techniques focusing on warming up, tumbling and floor exercise.
“This is actually the second tour of its kind,” said Chief of Armed Forces Entertainment, Air Force Major Jody Wynans. “Last August, coach Desiree Sanchez and Olympic champions Laurie Hernandez and Nastia Liukin traveled throughout the Pacific with us. They visited our service members and their families at bases with robust gymnastics programs, where they led youth gymnastics clinics,” explained Wynans. “When we saw those kids beaming with delight to meet and train with these gymnasts, we knew we had to share this special experience with the other regions we serve. Similar to what we saw in the Pacific, we’re expecting very high-levels of participation at our Mediterranean sites.”
This is the first Armed Forces Entertainment tour for Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber, who was a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team dubbed the “Fierce Five” at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
“I’m really looking forward to the tour,” said Wieber. “Until now, I’ve only traveled internationally for competition, so this will be very different. I’m excited for the chance to experience different cultures including life on a military base. But most importantly I’m just so happy to spend time with our military families and to be able to thank them for their sacrifices—they give up so much to ensure our freedom and I can’t wait to express my appreciation.”
“After the Olympics, when I retired from competitive gymnastics, I did not expect I’d have any interest in remaining in the gym,” said Wieber. “But I ended up discovering a huge passion for coaching, especially coaching young athletes. It’s my way of giving back to the sport and to inspire the next generation of gymnasts and now I’m thankful for the chance to give back in this way, to our service members living abroad.”
This tour marks Laurie Hernandez’ second time visiting U.S. service members overseas. Hernandez, who comes from a military family, brought home the gold medal in the team competition and the silver medal on the balance beam at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She is known for her dazzling floor exercise routine and has earned the nickname of the “human emoji” for her outgoing facial expressions and for her grace and artistry on the balance beam.
“I feel so proud to be a part of something like this, said Hernandez. “Bringing a bit of joy to the military families bravely serving our country overseas, through the sport that I love, is a really special opportunity.”
Desiree Sanchez, who has been coaching gymnastics for more 20 years, has worked with gymnasts from preschool level to collegiate athletes and national competitors. She has worked with Olympic gold medalist, Shannon Miller on both beam and floor choreography and in 2007, Sanchez ran a dance program geared towards competitive gymnasts with Olympian Dominique Moceanu. Sanchez has also previously traveled abroad with Armed Forces Entertainment to visit U.S. military personnel.
“It was such an honor to meet so many incredible military families,” said Sanchez about her most recent tour. “The opportunity to go out again and reach even more families while sharing something I’m very passionate about, is such a blessing. With all the that’s going on in the world today, it’s so important that these military families know how appreciated they are and I am thrilled to be able to show them.”
The Olympic Gymnasts’ Mediterranean tour falls into the sports category of the types of tours Armed Forces Entertainment sends out. The organization provides U.S. military personnel and their families, across the globe, entertainment in a variety of other categories including fitness, magic and illusion, comedy and rock, reggae, country and pop music.
“The planning part of the job is especially fun when you know you’re bringing a tour that will create a ton of excitement, particularly among our youngest audiences,” said Wynans. “For the youth gymnasts and really anyone of any age who is a gymnastics or Olympics fan, it’s kind of a big deal to meet these talented athletes and we feel very privileged to be able to make it happen.”
For more information on the Olympic Gymnasts Mediterranean Tour please visit: armedforcesentertainment.com/upcoming-events/olympic-gymnast