Clarksburg, MD — 3-time Olympian Dominique Dawes nevertheless maintains her concentration and devotion to what’s critical in daily life — which include laughter.
In the course of her performances, Dawes claims she rarely smiled. But today, as a spouse, mom of four young youngsters and proprietor of a gymnastics academy, she encourages the women she trains to convey thoughts that would not have been suitable through her profession.
It is portion of a shift in the cutthroat tradition of American gymnastics that was introduced to the fore at the Tokyo Olympics by the choice of Simone Biles — thought of the “Greatest of All Time” in the sport — to pull out of the group event final thanks to psychological exhaustion.
“She needs to do what is best for Simone,” Dawes told Zenger in an job interview.
“At the finish of the day she is the one who has to are living her life. Just like [Japanese world tennis No. 1] Naomi Osaka, who created the conclusion to not partake in a press convention for the reason that she was involved about her psychological well being, athletes need to have to be ready to say no,” she said.
“If they really feel that it is unhealthy for them, they have to have to be equipped to stage absent.”
Dawes was a member of the “Magnificent Seven” staff that won gold at the 1996 Summer time Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. She was also the very first black man or woman — male or woman — of any nationality to acquire an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics, and the to start with African American to gain an person Olympic medal in the flooring work out.
A whole lot has improved due to the fact then, she mentioned, with her Olympic successors like Biles a lot more empowered to stand up for their own interests.
“When I assume about the Olympic Video games, it provides me back to the stage of sacrifice and determination and what it took to get paid a location on that Olympic phase,” Dawes reported. “We did what was informed of us. Again in the ’90s, gymnasts were virtually qualified to be to robots.”
“It is quite substantially a breath of new air to be a 44-yr-old mother and to hear to my internal voice now.”
A distinctive aim
Dawes said her sights on gymnastics improved after she became a mother.
“I consider it is important for our youngsters to take pleasure in their childhood,” mentioned Dawes, who began in gymnastics when she was 6 a long time outdated.
In the 2020 documentary “Artwork of the Athlete,” Dawes talks about transferring absent from her parents and siblings when she was 10 to go after her desire of remaining a globe-course champion. Even though she afterwards would be nicknamed “Awesome Dawesome,” her journey was not easy.
“Everything that came out in 2016 about [former USA Gymnastics national team doctor and convicted sex offender] Larry Nassar … it was the tradition that allowed that to go on,” Dawes stated. “He abused so several younger women, and now we are shining a light-weight on a culture that has some terrible, physical and psychological abuse.
“I want to make absolutely sure that we are focusing on constructing and not tearing little ones down, building them up to be champions in everyday living.”
Dawes claimed she doesn’t have a aggressive crew at the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics and Ninja Academy in Clarksburg, Maryland, and that is by choice.
Her academy “is all about building a healthy natural environment and staying straightforward about the journey that I experienced, again in my job. While I adore sporting activities, it can be a pretty grueling environment. What I am presenting is quite different. I want folks to have a healthy introduction to the activity of gymnastics. It is not about developing champions. It is extra about happy and balanced kids expanding up to be wholesome older people.
“As a mother of 4, I see life differently,” she stated. “Everyone has unique strengths and capabilities. I see just about every kid there as gifted and gifted. That is how my facilities operate, as opposed to a very aggressive facility.
“It can be a pretty grueling ecosystem, but I want people to have a healthier location. We are planting constructive seeds, and it is really about developing the self-esteem and the emotional psychology of smiling and laughing and caring about [children] as individuals.”
Changing the “spirit of gymnastics”
“We are seriously striving to change the spirit of gymnastics. It was the lifestyle that allowed the abuse of so a lot of youthful ladies,” she reported.
Dawes, who spoke with Zenger ahead of Workforce Usa started their performances in Tokyo on Sunday, mentioned she and her family members would be looking at.
“I experience like every person in the globe is likely to be observing, being what we have been by means of about the last year and a 50 percent,” she stated. “We are cheering for them.”
Dawes married Jeff Thompson, a trainer in Potomac, Maryland, in 2013, and currently they are mom and dad of a 7-12 months-outdated, a 5-year-aged and 3-calendar year-previous twins.
When she was questioned what identify she goes by, she stated: “It is even now Dawes. But my spouse gets on me to change it to Dominique Thompson.”
Her husband, a former qualified basketball player, stated of Dawes: “She is astounding. I want to elevate her as a mom, wife and businesswoman.
“I see the organization as a contacting. I glimpse at her all the time, and as a person, I have to put the moi apart because she is so very well-loved, and allow her be the mom and the wife. It is often a complex road to navigate,” he mentioned.
Milton Kent, a professor at Morgan Point out University, explained Dawes was plainly a trailblazer for modern athletes due to the fact at the time she was competing, the Eastern Europeans set the criteria in gymnastics and the People in america ended up not severe contenders.
Kent said Biles and other present-day Olympic gymnasts owe a great deal to Dawes. But now Dawes would like to chart a new program for her learners.
“In phrases of some parents, they don’t truly [understand] the journey and the level of sacrifice it takes for a youthful youngster,” she claimed.
“I want to be aspect of the improve by building a nutritious setting. I see lifestyle different now that I am a mom of four little ones. I now see factors in conditions of my little ones and as a protective guardian. … I am going to be part of the dad and mom who genuinely care.”
Edited by Judith Isacoff and Fern Siegel, Visuals Edited by Claire Swift, John Diaz and Brian Coen, Director of Images, Adrian Muys
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