Dominique Dawes: A name that will never be forgotten in the sport of gymnastics. You probably remember Dawes, nicknamed "Awesome Dawesome," for her immense successes in three separate Olympic Games, particularly as a member of the "Magnificent Seven" at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. But where is Dominique Dawes now? While her days of competing as an elite gymnast are behind her after a dedicated 18 years, she hasn't slowed down at all. (Bustle has reached out to Dawes' team for comment.)
Dawes' journey as a gymnast started in 1976 at age six, and though she retired after the 2000 Olympics, her accomplishments are many. It's hard to pick out just a few achievements from a career that will be remembered for decades to come. She's not just a phenomenal athlete — she also took giant steps for both for women in general and black women in particular in the sport: She won team medals at all three Olympic Games she went to, and was the only American to do so; the 1996 Atlanta Games saw her win a bronze and become the first African-American woman to win an individual medal; and she was the first African-American to be placed on the national women's team, in 1988 — before she was even a teenager. All of this, by the way, barely scratches the surface of her career. Dawes' talent as an athlete led to her permanent spot in the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame in 2005.
Since her last Olympic games in 2000, Dawes' adventures have taken her far and wide. After graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2002 with a Bachelor's degree, she pursued a career in the spotlight as an actress and model. Appearances include a part in Prince's music video for "Betcha By Golly Wow" and Missy Elliott's video for "We Run This" in 2006. In addition to shining in front of the camera, she took to the stage as well, making a brief appearance on Broadway in a revival of Grease in the role of Patty Simcox. Dawes has also turned to motivational speaking and the empowerment of others. She's spoken to a variety of audiences, often numbering in the thousands, about leadership, teamwork, wellness, and more.
She still has a foot in the athletic world, too: She hosts gymnastics clinics for competitive gymnasts of all ages called FUNdamentals, as well as the president of the Women's Sports Foundation from 2004 to 2006 (the youngest president they've had!) and a member of Michelle Obama's "Let's Move Active Schools" campaign. In 2010, she also became co-chair of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She has proven to be an unbeatable role model for women everywhere, and even worked with the Girl Scouts of the USA as the first spokeswoman for their "Uniquely Me" self-esteem campaign in 2002. "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," she told the Washingtonian in a 2012 interview.
Not only did her career in gymnastics pave the way for future pursuits, but it also made her the supermom she is today. Dawes has shared in previous interviews that learning to work as a team and setting goals have helped her raise her two children. Obviously understanding what it takes to be a healthy, happy human being, Dawes is instilling the same values in her kids.
While she may no longer be competing for a spot on the podium, Dawes' career in health, wellness, and sports is alive and kicking.