Ask Paramus gymnast Hezly Rivera what cheers her up in the morning and she'll say with a smile: "Coming to the gym."
At nine years old, she's the youngest of the four homeschooled athletes who train at ENA Gymnastics in Paramus.
But Hezly knows exactly what she's after.
"I want to make the national team and go to the Olympics," she said.
"I put my best in everything I do and I'm confident and what I'm going to do."
Hezly climbed six levels in three years and currently trains at Level 9, working toward the Hopes Elite program. Hopes Elite is considered the starting gate for the most promising athletes.
Hezly was doing cartwheels and splits at four years old when her parents enrolled her in gymnastics.
Last year, she dropped out of Oradell's public school system so she could devote more time to training at ENA. She's now homeschooled -- and loves being able to give gymnastics her all.
"I'm always determined to come to practice," Hezly said. "I love it because I get to be with my friends and coaches. It's fun."
Coach Craig Zappa says Hezly's passion for gymnastics is clear, as she is always asking how to get better.
"She is very smart," he said. "I believe she is the best 9 yr old in the country."
Hezly says music helps motivate her, but the idea of one day becoming an Olympian alone is enough to make her want to improve.
Before returning to practice her skills on bars, Hezly offered advice to other kids with big dreams.
"Just to keep believing in yourself," she said, "and you can do it."
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