Gymnast says she was ‘speechless’ after Michelle Obama shared viral routine

'Now that’s what I call fierce!' Mrs. Obama wrote in the caption of her tweet sharing and praising Nia Dennis' now-viral floor routine.

UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis became an instant viral sensation last weekend when her gymnastics team shared her sensational floor routine, an amazing, athletic tribute to “Black excellence.” But even the phenomenon herself was shocked when former First Lady Michelle Obama posted the clip for her nearly-20 million Twitter followers to enjoy.

“Now that’s what I call fierce!” Mrs. Obama wrote in the caption. “You’re a star, @DennisNia.” 

UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis competes on the uneven parallel bars during a 2019 meet against Stanford at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

The 21-year-old told “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” via Zoom that the recent routine “is a reflection of everything that I am as a woman today.” She said she “picked a lot of really influential artists, Black artists that had a huge impact on the Black community.” 

Dennis can now count herself among the influencers having quite the impact on the Black community since her performance, shared on Sunday, quickly broke the internet, its flavor and finesse being praised by athletes and celebrities alike. The routine was part of the team’s winning performance last Saturday at the Pac-12 women’s gymnastics season-opening meet pitting UCLA against Arizona State.

Dennis’ high-energy flipfest started with Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA,” which flowed into a mix of records by Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Soulja Boy, Megan Thee Stallion, then wrapped up with some “California Love” by Tupac Shakur.

The Ohio native has been featured on Today, VICE and other outlets since capturing the public’s attention.

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Another powerful moment from Saturday’s match last week was when, before the UCLA-Arizona State meet began, the Bruins and Sun Devils stood united for a moment of silence in a show of solidarity for social justice and against racism.

The UCLA team wore warmup jackets that featured a “Stand Together” patch highlighted by the words “equality,” “justice” and “respect,” while the Valorie Kondos Field Floor displayed the same patch.

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A student-athlete organization of gymnasts in the Pac-12 conference has formed Gymnasts for Peace, Action, and Change (G-PAC). 

G-PAC, according to its mission statement, strives to advocate for diversity and inclusion. The group hopes to create real change in furthering equality by uniting people through shared experiences, providing educational resources and establishing a forum for discussion among student-athletes.

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