Olympian in 1992, 1996, 2000
Team bronze, 1992; team gold and individual bronze, floor exercise, 1996; team bronze, 2000
As a child growing up in Silver Spring, Dominique Dawes wanted to be the world’s best gymnast. At age ten, she moved in with her coach to make getting to practice on time—twice a day—easier on everyone.
That tenacity produced four Olympic medals, including a bronze on floor exercise in 1996.
Now 36, she says her priorities have changed but that she’s just as driven. She pours her passion into advocacy and public speaking.
“I think in life, people prepare to succeed or prepare to fail,” says Dawes. As cochair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and as someone who works closely with the First Lady on her “Let’s Move!” initiative, Dawes works to equip children for success.
When she was young, she says, she had little self-confidence. She was in a judged sport—which can breed self-esteem issues—and tied her value so tightly to gymnastics that she didn’t know what to do when she was competing poorly.
Which is why her work with the Girl Scouts, as spokesperson for the Uniquely ME! Self-Esteem Program, hits home: “When my gymnastics career was over, I wanted to empower young girls. I don’t want kids to think negatively about themselves like I did, but about the person they are, the character they have.”
Read more Olympic Moments.