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Dominique Dawes was never supposed to be a gymnast: Five things you may not know

Dominique Dawes

Dominique Dawes

Dominique Dawes was never supposed to be a gymnast: Five things you may not know

By Yolanda Spivey

Dominique Dawes, also known as “Awesome Dawesome,” is a retired American gymnast.  Born on November 20, 1976 in Silver Spring, Maryland, Dawes started gymnastics at the early age of six. Dawes started competing on a junior level at the age of 10, and in 1989 at the age of 12, she competed in her first international meet in Australia at the Konica Grand Prix. She went on to win three medals with three different teams from 1992-2000, including Team Gold in the 1996 Olympics.

Here are five other fascinating facts about Dominique Dawes that may interest you:

    Dawes wasn’t supposed to be a gymnast — Dominique Dawes parents originally signed her up for tumbling classes.  But when the family showed up for the first lesson, they learned that the class was cancelled. Someone suggested to her parents that she try gymnastics and they took her to a local gymnastic club called Hill’s Angel where Dominique met her coach Kelli Hill who coached her for her entire career.

    The sister got skills — Dominique Dawes received a perfect 10 when she competed in Japan.  Her energetic floor routine garnered Dawes a standing ovation and since then, she was a crowd pleaser at every championship she participated in.

    She was prone to injuries — During her pre-Olympic training Dominique Dawes battled a debilitating disease called Osgood-Schlatter. It’s a disease that is characterized by painful lumps below the knee that is prevalent in adolescents.  She also suffered from painful tendinitis in both ankles. Over the years has she suffered from a multitude of ankle injuries.

    She was the first EVER — Dominique Dawes was the first African American athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics.  She is also one of the only three female American gymnasts to participate in three Olympics and the first female gymnast to be a part of three Olympic medal winning teams.

    She has a life after gymnastics — After graduating College in 2002 with a Bachelors Degree, Dominique Dawes went on to pursue a career in acting, modeling and television production.  She appeared in videos by Prince and Missy Elliot and had a brief stint on Broadway in the revival of the musical, Grease.  She went on to become a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts and is presently on the Advisory Board of Sesame Workshop’s “Healthy Habits for Life” program. In addition to working as a motivational speaker, Dawes was appointed to be co-chair of President Obama’s President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.


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