Story at a glance

  • Nia Dennis is a senior at the University of California Los Angeles and a gymnast on the school’s team.
  • A member of the National Team, the gymnast is known for her powerful floor routines.
  • After going viral just last year, Dennis is being praised on social media for her latest routine.

Her hand over her heart, gymnast Nia Dennis took a knee and put her fist in the air to begin a powerful display of Black girl magic on the mat. 


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A video of her floor routine got quite a bit of love on Twitter, with more than 45,000 likes and nearly 10,000 retweets one day later, including shoutouts from Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast, as well as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, comic Wanda Sykes, rapper Missy Elliot and USA Gymnastics. 

 

The routine scored a 9.950 out of 10, taking the UCLA team to a 196.150-195.950 victory over Arizona State, reported the Los Angeles Daily News. Dennis paid homage to her father, stepping to "DNA" by Kendrick Lamar, and other Black artists, including Beyonce, Missy Elliott, Soulja Boy and Megan Thee Stallion, before closing out on Tupac Shakur's "California Love,” a nod to the city she represented. 


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"This routine definitely reflects everything that I am today as a woman and of course I had to incorporate a lot of parts of my culture," Dennis told Los Angeles Daily News. "I wanted to have a dance party because that's my personality and of course I had to shout out LA because we out here; UCLA." 

While Biles and Gabby Douglas have become household names, Black gymnasts are still underrepresented in the sport. Dennis is one of the 9 percent of Black gymnasts in NCAA women's gymnastics as of 2019, compared to the 65 percent of white gymnasts. 

The UCLA senior from Columbus, Ohio, has been a National Team member since 2012 and is no stranger to the gymnastics world, making her mark with performances such as a floor exercise to Beyonce’s "Crazy In Love," "Lose My Breath," and "Ego." 

 

Despite her prowess on the floor, Dennis's favorite apparatus is vault, according to her UCLA bio. A sociology major, Dennis hopes to become a physical therapist one day and lists Kobe Bryant and Sydney McLaughlin as role models — although “she enjoys blasting Chris Brown while cooking.”


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Published on Jan 25, 2021