We caught up with Olympian Dominique Dawes, (AKA Awesome Dawesome), who offered up advice and candidly spoke about the challenges female gymnasts face as they had back to the Olympics for a second time — and if anyone can open up about the topic it’s Dominique, who is one of only three female American gymnasts to compete in three Olympic games!
It’s rare for female gymnasts to compete in multiple Olympics and return to the arena after four years — but if anyone knows about staying disciplined and determined, it’s Dominique Dawes! We got to catch up with the three-time Olympian at the Olympic Gymnastic Trials in San Jose, where she offered up advice for gymnast Gabby Douglas, 20, who is competing in the Rio Olympics four years after she took home the gold at the London Olympics in 2012.
Dominique smashed records in the sport, becoming the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics. She also competed in a total of three Olympic games, (Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000), and was a part of three medal-winning teams. Heading back to compete isn’t easy — in fact, Dominique is one of only three female American gymnasts who have ever competed in three Olympic games. Her advice? Make sure your heart is still in it for the right reasons.
“I would say, again, don’t lose the love of the sport. You know, if you try to come back and it’s about making more money, or it’s keeping your name out there, or the visibility, that’s going to be the wrong reason. It’s going to show, you’re going to look miserable out there, the pressure is going to show on you, you have to bring yourself back to those childhood moments when you learned your first backflip, or when you had your first sleepover at a gymnastics gym, and when you were giggling all night long with your teammates, and you have to take yourself back to those amazing moments and recognize, “I love the sport, I’m having fun.” Anything that comes with it like the money, or the fame, is really just icing on the cake. Keep your focus on why you’re still doing it,” she said during a celebratory brunch hosted by Tide PODs on July 11. Tide partnered with Dominique, Simone Biles and Nadia Comaneci for their Evolution of Power campaign.
While every four years women’s gymnastics is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, earning a spot on the Olympic team requires an immense amount of drive, determination, and passion — even more if you’re attempting to head back for a second time. “You can be gifted with talent, but if you don’t work hard or put the time commitment in it’s not going to pay off,” Dominique said. “Most gymnasts are training five to seven hours a day, for about six days a week and for many years. It’s not like they started an Olympic track last year or four years ago, they’ve been working towards this since they stepped into the gymnastics gym.”
Simone Biles: Gabby Douglas & Aly Raisman Are ‘Like Family’
Along with the team veterans there are also a batch of newcomers competing for the first time — and Dominique suggested that they try to really take it all in as it comes. “Have fun, enjoy the moment. It’s something people say all the time, but recognize why you first got into the sport of gymnastics, why you still love it so much. To recognize that it’s not just about the medals or getting to the top of the podium, but it’s about those bonds and those friendships with your teammates. And, this generation, they get it. Because they go to the ranch every single month, they train together, they laugh together, they eat together, and they truly are friends, and they’re going to show that when they’re competing. And I think it’s just making sure they enjoy every moment of that,” she said.
Be sure to watch the US team compete in the Rio Olympics and check out Dominique in Tide’s Evolution of Power video.