What to Know About UCLA Gymnast Nia Dennis

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Layla Ilchi
·3 min read
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UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis is going viral for the second time in the last year thanks to her captivating floor routine.

A video of Dennis performing a floor routine set to a medley of songs by Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Kendrick Lamar and other Black artists went viral on Saturday, with many on social media praising the gymnast for her impressive choreography and celebration of Black artists. Dennis received an almost perfect score (9.95) for the routine.

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This is not the first time the UCLA senior has gone viral for her gymnastics performances. Her floor routine set to Beyoncé’s music at the Pac-12 conference last February also wowed spectators and social media users and earned her a score of 9.975.

Following her first viral performance, Dennis was a guest on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” last March to talk about the routine and her gymnastics career. Dennis also talked about how she was trying out for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but ended up tearing her Achilles muscle three months before the Olympics.

“It was really devastating because it felt like everything I sacrificed, everything my family sacrificed went down the drain and I really wanted to quit gymnastics, but I had to really dig deep and find it within myself to know that just because one dream is gone doesn’t mean I’m going to stop myself from achieving the rest of my dreams,” she said.

According to an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News, Dennis’ most recent floor routine was an homage to her father, who she said was involved in Greek life.

“The routine reflects everything that I am today as a woman,” Dennis said, “and, of course, I had to incorporate a lot of parts of my culture. I wanted to have a dance party because that’s my personality and, of course, I had to shout out L.A. because we out here, UCLA.”

Other than the floor routine, Dennis excels at other gymnastics events. According to her UCLA bio, Dennis was the first-team all-American on bars in 2019 and was the NCAA team champion in 2018. Last year, she received second team All-Pac-12 honors on vault and floor and finished the year ranked nationally at number 18 on floor.

Dennis has yet to be tapped by the beauty or fashion worlds for a sponsorship, but both industries have a long history of teaming with gymnasts for campaigns, including Olympic gymnasts Shawn Johnson, Simone Biles, Nastia Liukin and more.

Dennis is a hopeful for the upcoming Summer Olympics, which are still slated to be held in Tokyo this summer.

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