Olympic Gold Medalist Dominique Dawes: “Being An Athlete Made Me A Better Mom”
Training to be an Olympic gymnast is no easy feat. Years and years of long hours doing intensive cardio and weight training, eating a strict healthy diet, and possibly making personal sacrifices represent a portion of what it takes to make it.
And even though the road to the Olympics sounds tough, Olympic Gold Medalist Dominique Dawes says there is something more challenging—motherhood. Twenty years ago Dominique and her fellow gymnasts the “Magnificent Seven” won gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Today, Dawes is still winning but instead of gold medals, it’s the love, joy, and experiences of motherhood. The stay-at-home mom, wife, and motivational speaker has two daughters Kateri, 2, and Quinn, 10 months.
Here are a few excerpts from what she shared with TODAY’s Terri Peters about how being an athlete has made her a better mom and why motherhood is harder than Olympic training.
She said: “Obviously, as an athlete my goal was always to qualify for the Olympics or get a scholarship or win a gold medal. But as a mom, my goal is to make sure I have happy, healthy children. When it comes to the words that come out of my mouth, or what’s on TV or the radio or kind of food that is going into my kids’ bodies — sports have prepared me to think about those types of goals.”
And when asked about training being harder than motherhood she shared, “When you’re training for the Olympics, it’s all about you. You’re at the gym, you have to work through any issues you have with self-doubt or anxiety. But it was always about me being mentally and physically strong and listening to my coach, or finishing up the assignment and learning to persevere through difficult.But when you’re a mom, you don’t have full control and you have to learn to let go. And that is very difficult for many gymnasts, because gymnasts tend to have a controlling nature and a level of perfectionism. We were always striving for that perfect 10.”
“Now, as a mom, I’ve had to learn to really let go of that nature of perfection, because the minute I walk in my house, the mini-tornadoes have already taken over. I can try my hardest, but the minute I let my toddler or infant go, there are things that are going to be out of place, and I’ve had to learn to let go of that and be patient and keep focused on the most important thing: having happy, healthy children.”
Dawes is not only passionate about her children, she’s also passionate about helping young athletes too. On Dominiquedawes.com she offers motivational coaching to help empower young athletes where she helps them develop:
-Stepping stone goals – to help them achieve their long-term goals
-A personal motto that will help them keep stay focused on achieving their goal and keeping a positive, winning attitude to overcome peer pressures, setbacks and moments of self-doubt
-A positive self-esteem that will allow them to be happy and confident in all that they pursue