All Articles Tagged "dominique dawes"

The Rise And Dominance Of Black Gymnasts

August 25th, 2015 - By Nneka Samuel
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Photos: WENN and

Photos: WENN and

Awesome Dawesome is what they called her – better known as gymnast and “Magnificent Seven” Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes.  A hometown hero and one of my favorite athletes, I remember recording her competitions on VHS when I was a kid. I prayed to the gymnastics gods to make me just as fast, talented and fierce as she was.  We had an awful lot in common, after all.  I figured all I needed to do was learn the sport real quick, but I was a little too old when I finally enrolled in a class at the very gym where Dawes used to train.  And classes weren’t exactly cheap, so thus ended my athletic career before it even began.

At that time in the early to mid-‘90s, Dominique Dawes was the only prominent Black gymnast on the scene.  To watch her perform was a thing of beauty.  No one moved like she did, especially on the floor exercises.  I’m sure Dawes didn’t realize the impact she would have on other girls (and boys) of color who dreamed of tumbling and twisting at seemingly impossible heights, just like she did.  But her presence and dominance in a sport that is still primarily White helped pave the way for numerous athletes of color.  And with a slew of firsts under her belt – she was one of the first African-American female gymnasts to compete and qualify for an Olympic games in 1992, and the first to win an individual medal when she took home the bronze at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta for her floor routine – she showed that there was still lots of ground to cover.

Since Dawes, we’ve seen gymnasts like Lloimincia Hall, a recent Louisiana State University graduate who competed in the NCAA.  The first time I saw Hall perform at a televised competition I asked myself, “Who is this girl?”  Standing at just 4 feet and 11 inches, Hall is not only a powerhouse, but equal parts gymnast and cheerleader.  To say she gets the crowd revved up during her performances would be an understatement.  Her musical choices are far different and more lively than any other gymnast’s, and the energy she brings to the floor is contagious.  A four-time All-American and three-time reigning SEC Floor Exercise Champion, Hall holds the LSU record for most career perfect 10.0 scores on the floor.

If you don’t know Hall, here’s a gymnast who has become a household name: Gabby Douglas.  She’s competed in U.S. and world championships for quite some time, but for many of us, Douglas first came to our attention at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  Qualifying for the Olympic trials, Douglas landed the only secure spot on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team after placing first in all-around rankings.  Douglas was the first African-American since Dominque Dawes to make the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team.  And in yet another first, Douglas was the first African-American gymnast (or woman of color, period) in the history of the Olympic games to win gold in the individual all-around.  And, of course, Douglas also took home a gold medal alongside her U.S. teammates.  With her success and popularity came a Lifetime television movie, The Gabby Douglas Story.  The gymnast also graced countless magazine covers, including Time, Sports Illustrated and Essence.  She even found time to release a book: Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith.

The American public ate Gabby up, and rightfully so.  This girl was on fire.  But for all the positivity and light that was shone on Douglas’ obvious talents, the gymnast also shared her less than positive experiences while training.  She made known the racism and bullying she faced by fellow gymnasts at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach, a claim that the gym vehemently denied.  And who can forget the criticism Douglas received over her supposedly unkempt hair?  We all know the significance and representation of hair in the Black community. But this, in the midst of her meteoric, history-making rise, never should have been an issue on the social media or national news front.  But like the champ she is, Douglas silenced her critics by telling them they needn’t be concerned about the state of her hair, ‘cause she sure wasn’t.  Needless to say, racism, hair – these aren’t issues that non-Black gymnasts have to contend with, which shows there’s still plenty ground to be broken and lessons to be learned.

Last week, all of my fond childhood memories of watching Dominique Dawes came rushing back when I saw Simone Biles compete at the World Gymnastics Championships.  This was the first I had ever seen or heard of her, but she has won the title three times now. After earning a near-perfect score for one of the most difficult vaults that women’s gymnasts perform, it’s easy to see why.  I expect to see both Biles and Douglas at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year.  If they qualify for the team, and I have no doubt that they will, it’ll be the first time that two African Americans are on a U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the same time.

Dawes, Hall, Douglas, Biles – these gymnasts don’t know whose lives they’ll touch or who they’ll inspire.  Their presence and sportsmanship means more than they’ll ever know and opens doors for more minority representation in the sport of gymnastics.  I thank them for their leadership.

Who’s That Girl? Guess What Former Athlete Is Having Baby!

January 18th, 2014 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Dominique Dawes pf"


That’s right, former gymnast and Olympian Dominique Dawes is having a baby!

Now, how this has gone totally unnoticed for so long is actually pretty surprising because Dawes is still very active in various communities bringing about awareness for healthy living and lifestyles.

I don’t know about you but back in the day, Dominique Dawes was everything. She was the sole Black woman on the 1996 U.S. Olympics Team and represented in a major way.  There were few young black girls at that time who didn’t want to be her: graceful and talented.

Many of us saw her during 2012 Olympics giving commentary on the Fierce Five, the Women’s Gymnastics Team, and it made us wonder, “Where has she been? What’s going on with her?”  Well, no one could find out much information but as the pregnancy news has finally come to the light (she’s actually been talking about it on Twitter for months), information is trickling in little by little.

This is allegedly Dawes’ husband, Jeff Thompson:

"jeff thompson"

He is a student advisor and religion teacher at a Catholic school in Maryland.  He and Dawes have allegedly been married since May 2013 bur unfortunately, we can’t find one picture of them together. That shouldn’t come as too much of a shock because Dominique has always been private about her personal life.  But at age 37, she’s about to have her first child!

Congratulations to Domique Dawes and her husband Jeff on their little bundle of joy on the way!

MN Daily Salute: Black Female Athletes

February 18th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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In honor of Black History Month, MadameNoire is sending a daily salute to the African American women who inspire us every day of the year. Today we’re recognizing the black women athletes who make us proud everywhere from the tennis courts to the track, the balance beams, and the swimming pool.

"Venus Williams PF"

Source: WENN

Venus and Serena Williams

Venus and Serena Williams took the tennis world by storm when the two brown girls from Compton with braid and beads showed up on the courts and dominated their opponents. Venus has been ranked World No. 1 in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association on three separate occasions, and when she was named so in 2002 for the first time, she became the first African American woman to achieve be given then title during the Open Era. Venus is also a four-time Olympic gold medalist and as of February 2013, is ranked number 22 in the world in singles.

Like her big sister, Serena has also ranked up a number of World No. 1 rankings — five to be exact since July 2002.  Serena is the only female player to have won over $40 million in prize money and she is regardedas one of the greatest tennis players of all time, having won 30 Grand Slam  titles and four Olympic Gold medals.

Are They Related? 10 Sets of Celebrities Who Look Way Too Much Alike

August 8th, 2012 - By Marissa Ellis
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Isn’t weird when two people from the same immediate family look nothing alike..only to discover they have a lookalike out there in the world? Nowhere is this more apparent than with the public faces we know as celebrities. We revealed some Black celeb look-alikes in our first story with eerie resemblances, and we managed to uncover a few more – 10 couples to be exact!

Source: Taletela


Seriously, can you tell who is who here? Kinda freaky but Chaka Khan must be Nicki Minaj’s long lost aunt or something because how else can you explain the striking resemblance? (Chaka Khan is on the right).

Tears for Days: Dominique Dawes Reacts to Gabby Douglas’ Win

August 3rd, 2012 - By Veronica Wells
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Back in 1996, we were captivated by Dominique Dawes. The first African American gymnast to win a gold medal with her team, dubbed “The Magnificent 7.” Today, Gabrielle Douglas became the second African American to take home the gold, and the first to win not only the gold team medal but the gold individual all around. Fox Sports sat down with Dominique Dawes to get her thoughts on Gabby’s performance. See her teary reaction below.

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Represent! Gabby Douglas Close To Competing In Summer Olympics On US Gymnastics Team

June 27th, 2012 - By Alissa Henry
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"Gabby Douglas"


A black girl hasn’t won an individual medal in gymnastics at the Olympics, since Dominique Dawes’ won a bronze-medal in 1996. However, 16-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas is aiming to make history in the 2012 games.

The 5 foot, 94-pound gymnast nicknamed “Flying Squirrel” is originally from Virginia Beach, but moved to Iowa when she was just 14 to train with Liang Chow, the coach of 2008 gold medalist Shawn Johnson. She was a member of the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the team finals at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo, Japan. Now, she is looking to compete in the Olympics for the US Team.

The Washington Post reports:

Douglas, who prefers to be called “Gabby,” won the gold medal on the uneven bars and got edged by just two-tenths of a point for the all-around gold by defending champion Jordyn Wieber at the USA gymnastics national championships in May.

Next comes the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials, Thursday through Sunday in San Jose, where 15 women and 15 men will vie for just five spots each on the London-bound teams. Wieber and Douglas appear certain picks.

Douglas’s forte is the uneven bars, a traditional weakness of the U.S. women, flying around the bars and delighting in difficult release moves. She’s equally lithe and athletic on the balance beam. And after falling at nationals, which cost her the all-around title, she showed formidable resolve in hopping back on and completing her routine with no trace of nerves.

Pressure, Douglas explains, has never made her “chicken out.” It only drives her to be better.

“Kind of like Superman!’” she says with a laugh.

Black female athletes are strongly represented in the Summer Olympics, but mostly in track & field, so it will be awesome to see some representation in gymnastics at the Olympics this year. Dominique Dawes was 15 when she went to the Olympics for the first time. She and Betty Okino, another African-American gymnast, both became the first African-American females to win an Olympic gymnastics medal that year in 1992. Here’s hoping Gabby Douglas makes the Olympic team this year and brings home a gold.

What’s your favorite Summer Olympics sport? Do you watch gymnastics?

Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink

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Dominique Dawes Advocates for Diabetes Awareness

November 11th, 2011 - By madamenoire
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Famous gymnast, Dominique Dawes, is lending her time and her celebrity in the fight against diabetes.

In a recent release Dawes explained the reasons why she’s spreading awareness about a disease that affects 3.7 million African Americans:

With a history of diabetes in my family, I am aware of the severe effects of the disease and am very pleased to assist in educating Americans about the importance of early detection and appropriate treatment,” Dawes said.

To read more details about her advocacy and look and pictures and video from her Olympic competitions, head over to Black