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Dominique Margaux Dawes, a gymnastics legend often hailed as ‘Awesome Dawesome,’ left an indelible mark on the sport throughout her illustrious career. Beyond her tenacity and skill, Dawes holds the distinction of being the first female American gymnast to contribute to three Olympic-medal-winning teams—an accomplishment shared by only a select few in the history of the sport.
Her journey spans three Olympic Games, starting with the bronze in Barcelona 1992, followed by the iconic gold with the “Magnificent Seven” in Atlanta 1996, and culminating in another bronze in Sydney 2000. Dawes’ consistency and excellence over these three Olympiads position her alongside gymnastics pioneers Muriel Grossfeld and Linda Metheny-Mulvihill, forming an exclusive trio of American athletes who have achieved such a remarkable feat.
In the annals of gymnastics history, Dawes stands as a trailblazer, breaking barriers and setting new standards for excellence. Her impact extends beyond her athletic prowess, inspiring future generations of gymnasts to reach for the stars and prove that dedication and determination know no bounds. As a key member of the “Magnificent Seven,” Dawes contributed not only to her personal success but also to the collective triumph of her team, etching her name into the fabric of Olympic glory.
Dominique Margaux Dawes, the gymnastics sensation, kicked off her journey in Silver Spring, Maryland, on November 20, 1976. Proud daughter of Don and Loretta Dawes from Takoma Park, Maryland, her gymnastics adventure began at the young age of 6, guided by the skillful coach Kelli Hill.
Her Career journey
Let’s take a journey through Dominique Margaux Dawes’ early gymnastics career. Picture this: at just 10 years old, she was already competing as a junior elite, making waves in the gymnastics scene. In 1988, she entered her first U.S. National Championships and landed in 17th place in the all-around junior division – not too shabby for a young talent.
Fast forward to 1989, at the age of 12, and Dawes found herself in Australia for her first international meet, the Konica Grand Prix. The early ’90s marked her rise both nationally and internationally. She snagged the 3rd spot in the all-around junior division at the 1990 U.S. National Championships.
Now, here’s where it gets exciting. In 1992, at just 15, Dawes not only made it to the United States Olympic team but also took home a bronze in the team competition at the Barcelona Olympics. This made her and teammate Betty Okino the first African American females to win an Olympic gymnastics medal. Talk about breaking barriers!
Despite some tough falls in the 1993 and 1994 World Championships, Dawes showed resilience and nabbed two silver medals on bars and beam in the event finals. In 1994, she owned the National Championships, dominating in all-around and all four event finals, a feat not seen since 1969.
The road to the 1996 Olympics wasn’t without its challenges. Dawes faced wrist and ankle injuries in 1995 but still managed to shine at the U.S. National Championships and Olympic trials, securing her spot on the Olympic team. In Atlanta, she played a crucial role in the “Magnificent Seven,” helping the team clinch the gold – the first-ever for the U.S. women’s gymnastics.
1996 wasn’t without its hurdles, though. Dawes narrowly missed an all-around medal due to a floor routine stumble, but she redeemed herself with a bronze in the floor exercise finals. Notably, she became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold in gymnastics.
The journey continued to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. After a break from elite competition, Dawes returned, contributing to the U.S. team’s bronze medal. Her impact resonates beyond the medals, marking her as a trailblazer in gymnastics history.
Education and life after gymnastics
Dominique Margaux Dawes, the powerhouse gymnast, had a life beyond the mats that’s just as fascinating. Picture this: she navigated high school, rocking prom as the 1994 queen at Gaithersburg High School in Maryland. Later, she graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, bagging a bachelor’s degree in 2002.
But hold on, the excitement doesn’t stop there. Dawes dived into the world of acting, modeling, and TV production. You might have caught her in Prince’s “Betcha By Golly Wow” music video and Missy Elliott’s 2006 hit “We Run This,” where she played Missy’s gymnastics coach. Broadway also got a taste of Dawes when she briefly graced the stage in the musical Grease as cheerleader Patty Simcox.
Now, off the stage and screen, Dawes took charge as the president of the Women’s Sports Foundation from 2004 to 2006, making history as its youngest president. As if that’s not impressive enough, she became the first face of the Girl Scouts of the USA’s “Uniquely Me” self-esteem campaign in 2002.
Dawes, with a heart for giving back, championed autism awareness events, drawing from her personal connection with a younger brother who is autistic. Her involvement extended to Sesame Workshop’s “Healthy Habits for Life” program, where she served on the Advisory Board.
But wait, there’s more! In 2010, President Obama appointed Dawes as co-chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She even lent her voice to Yahoo’s coverage of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Here’s a quirky twist: Dawes, in a Yahoo gig, put Power Balance Bracelets to the test in 2010. Spoiler alert: superstition seemed to have the upper hand over the bracelets.
Dominique Margaux Dawes, the queen of gymnastics routines, had a flair that set her apart. Imagine this: when she hit the vault, it was all about the 1.5 twisting Yurchenko, showcasing her aerial finesse. On the uneven bars, Dawes wowed with a Shaposhnikova transition to the high bar, a Hindorff release, and a signature move – the 1.5 pirouette. She wrapped up her bars routine with a full pirouette and a jaw-dropping full-in dismount.
Dawes amazed with a series of back-handsprings followed by three layout stepouts, building up to a show-stopping dismount – two back-handsprings to a full-in dismount.
But when it came to floor exercise, Dawes was in a league of her own. Picture this: a double layout, a combination featuring a whip, back handspring, 2.5 twist, and punch front. She added a piked full-in back out, creating a crescendo with a double twist-punch front through to a double tuck. Dawes took it up a notch with a back-to-back display of skill, pulling off a double twist-punch front through to a 2.5 twist-punch front. Her floor routines weren’t just routines; they were a showcase of exhausting yet technically intricate back-to-back tumbling passes.
Now, let’s talk music. Dawes curated a soundtrack that added a unique touch to each performance. In 1994, she danced to the enchanting tunes of “Malagueña” by the Stanley Black Orchestra. Fast forward to 1996, and her routine came alive with “Ukrainian Fantasy” and “Near the Valley” by the Kovriga Balalaika Orchestra. Finally, in 2000, Dawes brought the energy with the rhythm of “Samba” by Armik, creating a fusion of music and gymnastics that left an indelible mark on the floor exercise stage.
1994 – Malagueña by Stanley Black Orchestra
1996 – Ukrainian Fantasy & Near the Valley by Kovriga Balalaika Orchestra
2000 – Samba by Armik make it unique
Dominique Margaux Dawes found love in a unique story. Picture this: in December 2012, she got engaged to Jeff Thompson, a teacher at The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland. Now, here’s the twist – Dawes embraced a new chapter in her life by converting to Catholicism, adding a special touch to their journey.
Fast forward to May 25, 2013, and the couple exchanged vows, sealing the deal in a heartwarming union. Their love story expanded with the arrival of four adorable bundles of joy, making Dawes a proud mom. Meet the squad: Kateri, Quinn, and the dynamic duo, Dakota and Lincoln, who made their grand entrance on January 22, 2018.
But the road to their beautiful family wasn’t without its challenges. Dawes openly shared her experience of a near-fatal miscarriage before the joy of welcoming her twins. It’s a testament to her resilience and the love that now fills their unique and heartwarming family story.