National Spokesperson, Sports Broadcaster and the first African-American gymnast to win an individual Olympic medal
Olympic gymnastic medalist Dominique Dawes is an accomplished motivational speaker, broadcaster, national spokeswoman, Broadway performer, part-time coach and gymnastics clinician who also conducts self-esteem and fitness workshops. She says that while competing in gymnastics was such an important part of her life for so many years, championing other causes has become her focus.
For most people, the lasting images of Dominique Dawes are of a pint-sized gymnast twisting and tumbling her way to Olympic glory, then victoriously raising a bouquet of flowers with her teammates as the United States team – forever known as the “Magnificent Seven” – received its gold medals at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Dawes, a three-time Olympic medalist and a four-time medalist at the World Championships of gymnastics, will forever be remembered for those heroics, achieved at the young age of 19. But nearly seven years after her latest Olympic feat, she has become much more than a champion gymnast. Dawes was not only the first female African-American gymnast to win an individual medal, but also the only U.S. gymnast to compete in three modern Olympic Games. She was best known for her up-and-back tumbling past that consisted of 11 flips in a row, tumbling from one end of the floor to the other. One of her most memorable achievements was at the ’96 Games, when she tumbled and danced her way to a bronze medal in the floor exercise.
Dawes has been named one of President Barack Obama’s 2010 Council Co-Chairs for his Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Dawes co-chairs the council with Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. In conjunction with the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative, this year President Obama has broadened the scope of the Council, formerly known as the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, to include a focus on healthy eating as well as active lifestyles. The Council’s mission is to engage, educate and empower all Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition. Capitalizing on a platform that has allowed her to capture the attention of millions of people, Dawes has served as a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of America’s Uniquely Me program, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty and the American Heart Association’s Choose to Move program. She serves as a past president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and on the athlete committee for USA Gymnastics as well as Sesame Street’s Health Advisory Committee. While the majority of her work is aimed toward women and youth, Dawes also speaks to corporations and non-profit organizations on leadership skills, goal-setting and teamwork. She has served as an event host or master of ceremonies at many events as well.
After her competitive career wound down with an appearance in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Dawes earned a degree in communications from the University of Maryland and set out to put her education and the fame associated with her Olympic success to good use. She has done work in broadcasting – commentating from national and international competitions – but she has focused a large portion of her attention on motivational speaking and campaigns to support women and youth’s self-esteem and other health and wellness issues.
Dawes began competing in gymnastics at the age of 6 and spent the better part of 20 years in a gym – but she can’t envision doing that for the rest of her life. She said she has found a new purpose and passion, and that is working to improve the lives of others and sharing the story of her trials and triumphs. Dawes has been involved in motivational speaking for 11 years, talking to schools and groups of young people about health, wellness and building self-esteem. She recently developed a 30-minute motivational CD aimed at teens and tweens titled “Envision: Reaching Your Full Potential” to get her message out to more people. Dawes also works as a part-time coach with young athletes and offers a fundamental gymnastics clinic, in which she travels to gym facilities and provides a full day of gymnastics instruction and motivation for young aspiring gymnasts. Having overcome many obstacles and having been taken under the wing of her one and only coach, Kelli Hill, at a young age, Dawes knows the power of self esteem, positive reinforcement and solid role models. Remembering the support she received as a child trying to grasp a dream as difficult as Olympic gold, she said, drives her to support young girls and women in sports and other aspects of life. Dawes attributes much of her success to positive reinforcement and the endless encouragement she received from Hill. Because of that, she is dedicated to using her positive attitude and outlook to help others.
Dominique was simply outstanding!! What a dynamic and engaging speaker! She quickly connected with her audience and held them captive till the very end.