Women I Admire: Dominique Dawes

As a young black gymnast, Dominique Dawes was my idol. As a child my walls were bare except a big Dominique Dawes poster squished by my bottom bunk, wishing me goodnight and reminding me what excellence could look like.

Like most children I looked for representations of myself, and was lucky enough to live in a place where I could find them. They added the black American girl doll (Addy) during my childhood, I had a great black power library by my house, and a school full of educated and progressive teachers who knew that Black history was American history. I knew of Nadia Comenici of course, and did book reports on Olga Korbut and Mary-Lou Retton (same year I did a report on Josephine Baker) but no one held a candle to ‘Awesome Dawesome’.

Ultimately I was far too tall to be a great gymnast. Even the tallest gymnasts I saw on TV, who seemed to tower above all the others, was Svetlana Khorkina who clocked in at a whopping 5′ 5″. By 5th grade, I was 5′ 7″ Though it took me years to realize it, it just wasn’t meant to be.


Gymnastics Montages

We have a deadline at work and I’ve realized that my current favorite form of stress release is gymnastics montages. Here are some of my faves:

A sassy intro to gymnastics from the movie Stick It:

An artful training compilation from same:

The wonderful French gymnast Elvire Teza on my favorite event, beam:

(If you can’t understand the French, the trick performed at 0:14 is named after her. I just couldn’t tolerate Elfi Schlagel’s comments in the American version)

5 beautiful and artistic beam routines compiled by MostepanovaFan:

A great compilation of difficult and interesting beam mounts:

And who can forget Wei-Wei’s breakdancing beam routine:

When the movie first came out the late Roger Ebert remarked that this skill could only be achieved with special effects. I don’t know if (or how) special effects might have been used in this movie, but I am confident that with a dedicated gymnast and enough time and takes, a girl can do a headspin on a beam. Rock it Wei Wei.