Saturday, July 20, 2024

Black History Month: Remembering Dominique Dawes’ trailblazing performance in the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics

Dominique Dawes
Greg Dubois/CBS Sports

Black gymnasts such as Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas have thrived in the Olympics for Team USA over the last 20 years. Dominique Dawes, the first African-American woman to make the U.S. gymnastics team, helped pave the way for them.

CBS Sports’ Sherree Burruss still remembers Dawes competing in the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics and thinking, “I look like her” and “she looked like me.” In those Games, Dawes became the first Black woman to win a medal an individual event – bronze on the floor – and led “The Magnificent Seven” to the first gold medal in the women’s team gymnastics competition for Team USA. 

Dawes’ trailblazing performance provided inspiration to Burruss and countless more. 

“I could see myself out there doing Olympic gymnastics,” Burruss said. “I was a six-year-old doing gymnastics who aspired to be an Olympian also.”

Dawes, who made her Olympic debut in Barcelona 1992 and won bronze in the team event that year, is also the first Black woman to appear on three medal-winning teams. The now-45-year-old’s U.S. squad claimed another bronze medal in Sydney 2000, her final Olympics. 

But while Dawes’ days as a competitor are over, she’s forging another wave of talented gymnasts as a coach. Dawes runs the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics Academy in her home state of Maryland. To Burruss, it’s the logical next step for a person who’s inspired nearly her entire adult life. 

“Dominique Dawes (is) still inspiring generations of gymnasts with her own gym now,” Burruss said. 

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles

Newsletter

Subscribe to stay updated.