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
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
“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
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.”