Who is Nia Dennis? UCLA gymnast from Ohio gives a lesson in ‘Black excellence’ with near-perfect floor routine
Nia Dennis might have been a relatively unknown name in international gymnastics, but the world sat up and took notice of her as she nailed a near-perfect floor routine for the Bruins in Los Angeles. On Saturday, January 23, the UCLA senior recorded 9.95/10 for her routine that saw her team win against Arizona State University
Dennis's recent near-perfect-scored floor routine that featured Los Angeles-area and Atlanta hip-hop could put her on the map. Her mesmerizing routine that saw her flips and splits didn't just floor the judges but also gave them a look at her athleticism and dancing skills where she clubbed some hip-hop moves to Monica's 'Every time da Beat Drops' and Missy Elliott's 'Pass That Dutch'. Talking about her work, Dennis said her routine was "what #blackexcellence looks like."
A quick introduction to Nia Dennis
All of 21, Dennis is an American artistic gymnast who has been part of the National side since 2012. She represented the US internationally in 2014 and is currently a member of the UCLA Bruins women's gymnastics team. The Ohio resident started off her professional career by taking part in the 2010 Covergirl Classic in the 10-11 Hopes Division, where she won second place. Dennis followed it up with scintillating performances over the following years.
She made her international debut in March 2014 in Jesolo, Italy and won team gold and individual silvers on the bars and all-around. Dennis then competed at the 2014 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships in Richmond, Canada, bagging the gold medal with the US team and the all-around and vault silver medals. Dennis trained at the Buckeye Gymnastics in Westerville and the legacy Elite Gymnastics in Naperville, Illinois.
Her senior international elite debut came in 2015 and it was announced she had committed to UCLA for NCAA gymnastics. According to The Los Angeles Daily News, Dennis said she was also using her floor time to honor her dad Casey Dennis, who stepped into a Black fraternity in college.
"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," she added. The 21-year-old brought some flair and flamboyance to the gymnastics floor last year when she stunned people with a modern music and dance piece to the tune of a Beyoncé medley, which included 'Crazy in Love' and 'Ego.' The performance saw her score 9.975 out of 10.
Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles loved the performance and tweeted: "Do the damn thing girl." She added: "This was so fun to watch! Keep killing it!"
okay @DennisNia do the damn thing girl 🔥 this was so fun to watch! keep killing it! https://t.co/eDntwMpC4R— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) January 24, 2021
The viral moment was applauded by thousands on Twitter, including rapper/producer Elliott.