Dominique Dawes : biography
Dominique Margaux Dawes (born November 20, 1976, in Silver Spring, Maryland) is a retired United States artistic gymnast. Known in the gymnastics community as 'Awesome Dawesome,' she was 10-year member of the U.S. national gymnastics team, the 1994 U.S. all-around senior National Champion, a three-time Olympian, a World Championships silver medalist and a member of the gold-medal winning "Magnificent Seven" at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Dawes is also notable as being the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics, and the first black person of any nationality or gender to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. Mary Buckheit, ESPN, February 22, 2008 She is also one of only three female American gymnasts, along with Muriel Grossfeld and Linda Metheny-Mulvihill, to compete in three Olympics and was part of three Olympic medal-winning teams: Barcelona 1992 (bronze), Atlanta 1996 (gold), and Sydney 2000 (bronze). Dawes is the first female gymnast to be a part of three Olympic medal winning teams since Lyudmila Turischeva won gold in Mexico City (1968), Munich (1972), and Montreal (1976). Since Dawes, Svetlana Khorkina is the only gymnast to accomplish this feat, winning silver in Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000) and bronze in Athens (2004).
- Inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, 2009
- Inducted into the USA Olympic Hall of Fame (with the Magnificent Seven), 2008
- AAUW Women of Distinction Award, 2004
- "Caring Hands, Caring Hearts" Award, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Children Around the World, 2003
- Inducted into USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame, 1998
- Essence Award, 1997
- Henry P. Iba Citizen Award, presented annually to two outstanding athletes who have demonstrated good citizenship, 1995
- Sportsperson of the year by USA Gymnastics, 1994
- Finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award, which recognizes the USA's top amateur athlete, 1994
Dawes was competing as a junior elite by the age of 10. She placed 17th in the all-around junior division at her first U.S. National Championships in 1988. In 1989, at the age of 12, she was sent to Australia to compete in her first international meet, the Konica Grand Prix. By the early 1990s, Dawes was achieving success both nationally and internationally. She placed 3rd in the all-around in the junior division at the 1990 U.S. National Championships.
At the 1992 USA vs. Japan dual meet, the 15-year old Dawes received a standing ovation, after an energetic floor routine in which she revived the back-to-back tumbling revolutionized by Soviet star Oksana Omelianchik. The judges were equally impressed, and gave her a perfect 10. Though she was not part of the 1991 World Championship team, Dawes continued to move up on the national and international scene throughout 1991 and 1992.
The crowd pleasing athlete placed 4th at the 1992 Olympic trials and was awarded a place on the United States Olympic team. Despite battling very painful tendinitis in both ankles and Osgood-Schlatter disease during pre-Olympic training, Dawes performed respectably throughout the competition, even having the boldness to try a brand-new move in her balance beam routine in the team competition--back handspring to three layout stepouts. She also won over the crowd with a solid optional floor exercise routine and, with a mark of 9.925, tied with Kim Zmeskal for the highest score for the American team on the event. Gymn-Forum The team won bronze, and Dawes and teammate Betty Okino became the first African American females to win an Olympic gymnastics medal.
Dawes only competed in the team competition in 1992, not breaking through as an all-around gymnast until 1993. She is probably best known for her performances at the 1993 and 1994 World Championships. In 1993, Dawes led the competition after three events, even beating her more famous teammate Shannon Miller. However, she decided to try her harder vault (1½ twisting layout Yurchenko) which was worth a 10.00 instead of simply a full-twisting layout Yurchenko which had been devalued to a 9.8. She made the first vault, but slipped and fell on the second, immediately bursting into tears. With the new rule that both vaults were averaged in all-around competition, her fall dropped her to 4th overall while Miller won the title. Jet magazine, May 17, 1993 Famously, after the vault fall Dawes's coach Kelli Hill exhorted her to be proud of her performance anyway, stating: "When did you ever think you would be in that position? You have to be happy with yourself. Come on. Be happy. Stand up and wave". Dawes did so, and earned a standing ovation from the crowd.Eurosport coverage of the 1993 World Championships After this disappointment she rebounded in the event finals, winning two silver medals on bars and beam.
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