In her new memoir ‘Off Balance,’ Dominique not only reveals insight into her rise to the top of the Olympic podium, but also details about her ‘secret sister’ Jennifer Bricker, a gymnast born with no legs. Read more about her ‘GMA’ interview below!
Romanian-born Dominique Moceanu, 30, was only 14 years old when the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team took the Gold in the 1996 Olympics. In her powerful new book, she discusses the challenges about growing up in a world of constant competitions, her demanding coach Bela Karolyi, and filing for emancipation from her parents. But the biggest shock of all came when Dominique found out she had another sister! “My life will forever be divided into before knowing about Jen and after knowing about Jen.”
On June 11th on Good Morning America, Dominique discussed feeling that something was off long before she knew of her sister. “There was a sense of primal loss. My husband can attest to this. About a few months before Jennifer entered my life, I had the sense that there was something out there, a piece of the puzzle missing. I would joke with my husband. We would see these shows on television of long loss siblings and things and I was like, ‘What if that ever happened to me?’ I would think, no way, how would that ever happen to me?”
Jen says about the letter that she wrote to Dominique, “I just sent it out on a hope and the prayer. I knew from following her my whole life that she would respond well. I knew that she had to be curious. I knew she didn’t know. I felt that.”
“I received the biggest shock of my life,” says Dominique. “When I received the letter, my psyche couldn’t take it all in. You have to realize the context, when I was receiving this letter, I was becoming a mother, losing a father, gaining a sister, and gaining a daughter. It was a lot to take in. I believed it because of the way Jennifer had packaged the letter so carefully. There were the adoption papers and I saw my parent’s handwriting on the papers. I knew immediately after seeing the photos as well that she looked so similar to my youngest sister Christina. They’re pretty much twins!”
Jen explained that she idolized Dominique growing up, and that even though she was born without legs, she became a gymnast and an acrobat. Talk about good family genes! “I wouldn’t shut up about her! Dominique! I knew she was Romanian. I knew we looked alike. Her biggest fan!”
“It’s a nature vs. nurture story because Jennifer did the same sports that Christina and I did, so it was really mind-blowing that Jennifer did gymnastics without having legs and she broke all these barriers and boundaries. She was never told that she couldn’t do something. She’s an amazing individual,” says Dominique. Jen grew up wanting sisters and her dream came true when she was reunited with Dominique more than four years ago! We can’t wait to read more about their relationship in the book!
Dominique also explains how she filed for emancipation from her parents after the Olympics because she felt like she needed freedom. She also said she was intimated and humiliation by her coaches, including the legendary Bela Karolyi. How awful for a young teenager — we can only imagine the pressure she felt. She said she still loves gymnastics and will always be bonded to it and that not everyone in the sport has to experience the trauma she did.
What do YOU think, HollywoodLifers? Will you be reading her book? Sound off in the comments below.