Biography of US Gymnast Dominique Dawes

Born November 20, 1976 in Silver Spring, Maryland, Dominique Dawes would soon become on of America’s great gymnasts, combining high jumps with a verve rarely seen in other gymnasts.

The fearless spirit of Dominique Dawes was present, even from a young age, when she began gymnastics quite on accident. When a local tumbling program was full, the young Dawes ended up at Hill’s Angels (later known as Hill’s Gymnastics), a local gymnastics club that would become a central point in her life. Here the spunky Dawes would, over the next 8 years, perfect her craft, largely outside of formal competition.

Dominique began her adult (non-juniors) gymnastic career in 1990, and two years later, she qualified for a spot on the 1992 Olympic team. She performed solidly and helped lead the American team to an overall Bronze metal. The next few years of Dominique’s career showed problems with the vault, as Dawes would perform one of the pair of vaults perfectly, only to botch the other in competition, knocking her out of first place on more than one occasion. Despite this shortcoming, Dawes made an amazing comeback, giving one of the strongest gymnastics performances ever seen at the World Team Championships in 1994. 1995 was a year riddled with injury for the 18-year old gymnast, but after sitting out competitions and healing, Dawes was ready to return to gymnastics. She finished first at the 1996 Olympic trials and went on (with teammates Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden and Jaycie Phelps) to become part of the “Magnificent 7,” America’s gold-winning 1996 Olympic Women’s Gymnastics team. Dawes and her teammates became the first team to unseat the Russians, who had won Olympic gold in the event since they began competing.

After the Olympics, Dawes, with the rest of her team, began touring. She competed very little during the next four years and instead focused on acting, especially musical theatre, and attended university. The gymnastics world was shocked when Dawes came out of what many believed to be retirement to turn in solid performances and qualify for her third Olympic games, and while her performance there was less than spectacular, she became the first American gymnast to compete in three Olympic games.

Throughout the course of her decade-long career as an elite gymnast, Dominique Dawes accumulated approximately 140 medals. Not only was she (along with Betty Okino) one of the first African American gymnasts to win an Olympic medal and the first to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games, but she is also the only American gymnast to date that has participared in three Olympic Games (in 1992, 1996, and 2000). Over her ten years in competition, Dawes won the following awards:

– 2000 Olympic Games; 4th-Team
– 2000 Olympic Team Trials; 7th-AA
– 2000 John Hancock U.S. Gymnastics Chamionships; 9th-AA
– 1998 American Classic; 8th-AA, 1st-V, 5th-UB
– 1998 Goodwill Games; 9th-mixed pairs
– 1997 Reese’s International Gymnastics Cup; 3rd-AA
– 1996 Olympic Games; 1st-Team, 17th-AA, 3rd-FX, 4th-UB, 6th-V
– 1996 Individual Event World Championships; 3rd-BB, 11th-UB
– 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials-Gymnastics; 1st-AA
– 1996 Coca-Cola National Championships; 6th-AA, 1st-V, UB, BB & FX
– 1996 American Classic/World Championships Trials; 2nd-AA
– 1995 World Team Trials; 5th-AA
– 1995 Coca-Cola National Championships; 4th-AA, 1st-UB & FX, 3rd-BB, 4th-V
– 1995 Budget Rent a Car Invitational; 1st-Team, 2nd-AA
– 1995 Visa Challenge; 1st-Team, 7th-V, 1st-UB & BB
– 1994 Fukuoka Cup; 4th-V, T2nd-UB, T1st-BB, T3rd-FX
– 1994 Chunichi Cup; 6th-AA, 4th-V, 1st-UB & BB, T2nd-FX
– 1994 Team World Championships; 2nd-Team
– 1994 Hilton Challenge; 1st-Team, 1st-AA
– 1994 World Gymnastics Championships; 5th-AA, 4th-UB, 6th-BB & FX
– 1994 International Mixed Pairs; 1st-AA
– 1994 McDonald’s American Cup; 1st-AA, V, BB & FX
– 1994 Reese’s World Gymnastics Cup; 2nd-AA, UB, BB & FX
– 1994 NationsBank World Team Trials; 1st-AA
– 1994 Coca-Cola National Championships; 1st-AA, V, UB, BB & FX
– 1994 American Classic/World Championships Trials; 1st-AA
– 1993 Hilton Challenge; 1st-Team, 2nd-AA
– 1993 World Gymnastics Championships; 4th-AA, 2nd-UB & BB
– 1993 Reebok International Mixed Pairs; 8th-AA
– 1993 McDonald’s American Cup; 7th-AA
– 1993 Coca-Cola National Championships; 2nd-AA, 1st-V & BB, 2nd-FX, 3rd-UB
– 1993 U.S. Classic; 1st-AA
– 1993 American Classic/World Championships Trials; 2nd-AA, UB & FX, 1st-V, 4th-BB
– 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials; 4th-AA
– 1992 U.S. Gymnastics Championships; 4th-AA, 1st-UB
– 1992 Olympic Games; 3rd-Team, 26th-AA
– 1992 Dodge Challenge: USA vs. JPN; 1st-AA & Team
– 1991 Dutch Open; 2nd-AA, 3rd-FX, 4th-V, 6th-UB, 2nd-BB
– 1991 McDonald’s International Mixed Pairs; 7th-AA
– 1991 McDonald’s American Cup, Orlando, Fla.; 5th-AA
– 1991 U.S. Gymnastics Championships; 9th-AA, T1st-FX
– 1991 U.S. Classic; 6th-AA
– 1990 American Classic; 6th-AA, 2nd-FX
– 1990 Trofeu Principle de Asturias; 10th-AA

Since her days as an elite gymnast, Dominique Dawes has stayed active both in and beyond the gymnastics world. She now coaches gymnastics at Hill’s Gymnastics in Silver Spring, MD, the gym where, years ago, she first trained. She has also appeared in several music videos, has performed in Broadway shows, and has done some modeling. She is the President of the Women’s Sports Federation and serves on the Advisory Board for “Healthy Habits for Life,” put out by Sesame Workshop.

Dominique Dawes exemplifies the Olympian spirit not just in her competition history but in her dedication to ensuring that everyone have the opportunity to do their best. She leads by example, always putting forth 110 percent.

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