1996 Olympic Champion
Sixteen years since first gracing the Olympic stage,
1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Dominique Moceanu continues to inspire countless
young athletes all over the world. Proudly recognized as the
youngest U.S. National Champion in gymnastics history, Dominique
remains active through her involvement with
camps and clinics across the country. She also delivers personal messages
of motivation, focus and healthy living through her speaking engagements
and special appearances. Now a mother of two, Dominique continues
to extend her resume with personal and professional milestones, reflecting
a distinct evolution beyond her gold medal years.
- June 2012 - Dominique publishes her memoir, Off Balance
- April 2012 - The first books in Dominique's Disney/Hyperion book series, The Go-For-The-Gold Gymnasts are released
- September 2011 - Dominique inducted into Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame
- August 2010 - Dominique inducted into the
USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame
- September 2009 - Dominique inks deal with
Disney/Hyperion to co-author The Go-For-The-Gold Gymnasts, a four-book series
- May 2009 - Dominique graduates with B.S.
in Business Management from John Carroll University
- March 2009 - Dominique welcomes second child,
- July 2008 - Dominique inducted into U.S.
Olympic Hall of Fame
- December 2007 - Dominique gives birth to
first child, daughter Carmen Noel on Christmas Day
- November 2006 - Dominique weds Dr. Michael
Canales, a former Ohio State gymnast, in her hometown of Houston,
- January 2004 - Dominique launches a competition
bearing her name, the first-ever Dominique Moceanu Invitational, in
- January 2004 - Dominique releases a personalized
bobblehead doll, a first for the gymnastics world
the daughter of two athletic Romanian immigrants, it was almost inevitable
that Dominique would follow in her parents’ agile footsteps. At
the young age of 3, Dominique began taking gymnastics classes in Highland
Park, Illinois. While Dominique’s athletic interests appeared
to most as only a childhood hobby, gymnastics rapidly developed into
her ultimate passion and, unbeknownst to the world, an Olympic Champion
was in the making.
By age 10, Dominique’s talent, abilities and hard
work led her to world-renowned coach Bela Karolyi. With Karolyi’s
instruction, it was only a matter of time before her visions of becoming
a champion manifested into reality. Only 7 months after joining Karolyi’s
gym, Dominique became the youngest member to qualify for the U.S. Junior
National Team at age ten. At the 1992 Junior National Championships,
Dominique finished fifth in the all-around and continued her ‘youngest
streak’ by becoming the youngest gymnast to win a medal at the
championships (Balance Beam)—a record which still stands. That
same year, as the youngest gymnast to ever compete at the Pan American
Games, Dominique captured five medals (four of them gold!), again becoming
the youngest gymnast to capture titles on vault, bars, floor exercise,
all-around and in the team competition.
Although the 1993 Junior National Championships did not
result quite as successfully as 1992, Dominique considers her seventh
place all-around finish to have been an important growing experience.
Karolyi’s philosophy, “you can always do better,”
pushed Dominique’s training regimen to new heights. At the 1994
Junior Nationals, she triumphantly returned, capturing the coveted all-around
medal in addition to 2 event gold medals (Vault, Floor Exercise).
Dominique enjoyed another stellar year in 1995. After
winning a gold medal in the uneven bars at the Reese’s International
Gymnastics Cup, she placed first in vault at the American Classic and
continued her winning streak at the Visa Challenge by capturing her
first all-around title against an international field and winning gold
medals in the floor exercise and team competitions.
the 1995 U.S. Senior Nationals (her first major Senior national meet),
Dominique became the youngest gymnast in U.S. history (at 13) to capture
the all-around title before going on to win the title at the World Team
Trials. Consequently named to the 1995 World Championships team that
went on to win a team bronze medal, Dominique took fifth in the all-around
competition in her first World Championships appearance. She also won
the silver medal in the balance beam competition, earning the distinction
of the best individual performance for an American that year.
Leading up to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Dominique
unfortunately experienced a painful stress fracture in her tibia, resulting
in a disappointing U.S. Nationals finish. Furthermore, her injury had
a considerable impact on her training before the Olympic Games, pre-empting
her chances for an individual gold medal. Although Dominique’s
Olympic performance did not result in an individual medal, it did contribute
to earning the team gold medal. Subsequently, the 1996 Gymnastics team,
becoming the first and only American Women’s Gymnastics Team to
win the Olympic team gold medal, was dubbed the “Magnificent 7.”
Following the 1996 Olympics, Dominique had several coaching
changes until 1998 when she began training under the guidance of Luminita
Miscenco, a former gymnast at the famous school in Deva, Romania. Doubt
arose about Dominique’s ability to rebound from the disappointment
of not winning an individual medal in Atlanta.
Dominique credits Miscenco for putting her back on track
and for helping her adjust to her new frame after she grew seven inches
in height and gained 18 pounds in 1997. As Dominique continued to develop
physically and mentally under the direction of Miscenco, her confidence
was restored and her eagerness to regain respect by proving herself
as an individual international competitor escalated.
up to the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York, there was a great deal of
pressure on Dominique to perform well. Embracing the challenge with
determination and maturity, Dominique proved to the world that her will
to succeed could overcome adversity. In a breathtaking performance,
she triumphantly captured the all-around title at the Goodwill Games.
Becoming the first non-Russian to win this distinction, Dominique’s
gold medal re-established her position among the world’s elite.
In the fall of 1998, Dominique, now 17, navigated through
a challenging and emotional family struggle when she sought legal emancipation
from her parents. The distractions and media circus caused conflict
with her training. Even with her privacy invaded and training interrupted,
Dominique strove to maintain a profound poise and maturity. Having missed
a few months of training and competitions, new doubts arose surrounding
Dominique’s ability to rebound. However, Dominique’s unique
and undying spirit as well as her love of the sport continued to flourish.
In a determined comeback effort, Dominique moved to Cincinnati, Ohio
in January of 2000 to resume training under the management and support
of 1996 Assistant Olympic coach Mary Lee Tracy. Advancing from the U.S.
Classic, through to the U.S. National Championships, Dominique was well
on track to realizing her Olympic dream for the second time. Unfortunately,
a sudden knee injury forced her to withdraw from the 2000 Olympic Trials.
Following the 2000 Olympic season, Dominique remained
active in the gymnastics community through national tours, coaching
duties for an Ohio club team and traveling the country to host clinics
at local gyms.
After a five-year competitive hiatus, Dominique surprised
and delighted fans in 2005 with the announcement that she would return
to elite gymnastics at age 23. Coached by her fiancé, Dr. Michael
Canales, Dominique drew strength and enthusiasm from the team based
approach that leveraged Canales’ experience as a physician, collegiate
gymnast and confidante. Despite their efforts being ultimately derailed
due to injury, Dominique and Mike credit their 2005 training sessions
as a source of enrichment for their relationship.
receiving surgical treatment for an Achilles’ tendon injury, Dominique
sought guidance from USA Gymnastics’ Athlete Selection Committee
and resumed training on floor and vault with the ultimate goal to compete
at the 2006 Senior U.S. National Championships. After attending the
national team training camp in July of 2006 and competing at the 2006
U.S. Classic to fulfill the qualification criteria outlined to her by
the selection committee, Dominique was ultimately blocked from participation
in the 2006 U.S. Championships in what proved to be a controversial
decision. Dominique and her coach/fiancé Mike appealed the decision
with USA Gymnastics, but the ruling was not overturned.
Dominique rebounded from the disappointment of 2006 by
turning her focus toward building a family and furthering her education.
She exchanged wedding vows with Mike in November 2006, and welcomed
their first child, daughter Carmen Noel on Christmas Day in 2007. Dominique
received her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from John
Carroll University just two months after welcoming the family’s
second child, Vincent Michael in March 2009.
Although a return to the Olympic stage was never fully
realized, Dominique has continually proved to herself and the world
that after all she has been through, she still has the heart of a champion.
A passionate gymnastics supporter and athletes’ advocate, Dominique
remains active in the gymnastics community while pursuing professional
and philanthropic endeavors including personal appearances, motivational
speaking engagements and entrepreneurial ventures.
1 & 5 © 2009 Kim
Photos 3 & 4 © Dave
Photo 2 ©