LIT History: Before Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, there was Dominique Dawes
It's been a pretty epic week for athletes of color, especially with the announcement of the 2016 Olympic gymnastics team. With 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez and gymnastics powerhouses Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, this year's gymnastics team is the most melanin-filled team in history. Simone and Gabby are clearly on their way to making this another historic year for black women in gymnastics, but before their time Dominique Dawes became the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics
I was too young to remember Dominique Dawes when she competed at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. I do, however, remember seeing her compete at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Twenty years ago
This was the first Olympic games I ever watched and just so happened to be the very first time the U.S. gymnastics team won the gold medal. They were known as the "Magnificent Seven", and Dominique became the "Awesome Dawesome."
The Magnificent Seven.For a young girl like me, it was fascinating. I became engrossed in the Olympics and all-things-artistic-gymnastics from then on
Dawes' record-breaking career didn't begin in 1992 though. She became the first black woman to earn a spot on a U.S. national gymnastics team. She's the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics (bronze), and one of only three American female gymnasts to compete in three Olympics—Barcelona 1992 (bronze), Atlanta 1996 (gold), Sydney 2000 (bronze). When the U.S. team won the bronze medal in 1992, she and teammate Betty Okino became the first black women to win an Olympic medal in gymnastics.