Dawes’ start in gymnastics began at the age of 6. Her first and only coach, Kelli Hill quickly realized her potential, and Dawes began competing at the age of 10. She burst into the international spotlight at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, where she was the first African-American female to compete and qualify to an Olympic Games through the Olympic trials. At these Games, she and her teammates captured a bronze medal. Fans will recall that she was the gymnast that wowed the audience with her unique ‘up-and-back’ tumbling pass that consisted of 11 skills, spanning from one end of the floor to the other. I could never hear my floor music after that tumbling pass,” Dawes recalled. “The crowd would be cheering so loud; I would just have to dance to their cheers. It was an amazing feeling.”
Throughout her career, Dawes has won more National Championship medals than any other athlete, male or female, since 1963, as well as numerous World Championship medals. One of Dawes’ greatest feats came when she swept all four events and won the All Around title at the 1994 National Championships.
"Winning my first national title was exciting,” Dawes said. “I was struggling for over a month each and every day of practice leading up to the Nationals. I couldn’t stay on the balance beam to save my life. My consistency and confidence were failing. I am not sure if it was the pressure of the sport getting to me, but whatever it was, it made it difficult to stay focused on my goals. One day after practice, Mrs. Norman, a parent of a teammate, took me aside and said the kindest words to me. She didn’t add pressure or give me advice; she showed me compassion. To this day, her words still resonate in my head and inspire me to stay focused whenever times get tough. I learned then that saying the right words, at the right time, can lift someone’s spirit. I aspire to offer those same kind words to those that I come in contact with."
Dawes is much more than a champion gymnast, though. After retiring from the sport to which she dedicated 18 years of her life, Dawes has found a new passion empowering others. She is an accomplished motivational speaker, speaking to audiences of hundreds and thousands on topics focusing on passion, leadership, teamwork, health, fitness and wellness. Dawes’ message empowers vast audiences, from corporate executives to small business owners, women’s organizations to youth service organizations, and high school to college-age students; her passion and energy is captivating and leaves a lasting effect on those she inspires.
Since Dawes’ first passion in life was gymnastics, she continues to educate those on the grassroots level. She hosts gymnastics clinics for aspiring athletes of all ages, with a focus on fundamentals, goal-setting and mental toughness. She has served as a spokesperson for multiple local and national campaigns dealing with causes about which she is passionate. Dawes stays involved in high-level competitive gymnastics by working as an analyst in the media, most recently traveling to China to report on the Beijing Olympics for Yahoo! Sports. In 2010, Dawes was named co-chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. As co-chair, her mission is to engage, educate and empower all Americans to fulfill their own dreams.
In addition to her healthy lifestyle movement, Dawes has served as spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of America’s Uniquely Me program, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty and the American Heart Association’s Choose to Move program. Much of her work is directed toward women and youth, but she also speaks to corporations and non-profit organizations on leadership skills, goal-setting and teamwork. Since her first passion is gymnastics, she continues to teach those on the local level. Dawes hosts FUNdamentals with Dominique Dawes, which is a one-day gymnastics clinic for competitive level gymnasts of all ages, focusing on fundamentals, goal setting and mental toughness.
- Women's Health & Heart Disease
Dominique Dawes has worked with the American Heart Association as the spokesperson for the Choose to Move program for years, advancing their goal of informing everyone on how to combat cardiovascular disease. In this keynote presentation, she focuses on the benefits of smart nutrition, everyday exercise, and commonsense core habits that each of us can implement to avoid the number one killer of women: cardiovascular disease.
- Got D-3? Determination, Dedication, Desire
D-3 became Dawes' personal motto when she was an Olympic athlete in the making. Fatigue, frustration and loss of focus was common is such a perfectionist sport. D-3 kept Dawes focused on what was going to allow her to stay on the path to success. She paints a vivid picture of moments in the gymnastics arena where D-3 inspired her to persevere through setbacks and struggles, sacrifices and insecurities, en route to Olympic Gold. D-3 has become a staple in Dawes' athletic and professional accomplishments. She inspires audiences to develop their own personal motto that will help define and direct them in life too!
- Building a Strong Foundation for Success
Building a solid foundation was one of the keys to Dawes' success. Her emphasis on a solid foundation touches on multiples areas: from healthy lifestyle choices to developing positive self-esteem where she addresses issues such as peer pressures, productive attitudes and values. The audience will walk away empowered, motivated, and, more importantly, clear on what it takes to build a strong foundation worthy of your dreams.
- Envision Reaching Your Full Potential
ENVISION is Dawes' signature, most uplifting and captivating message. It is also the title of her motivational line of products. ENVISION is an acronym for the 8 principles that helped Dawes become successful in and out of the athletic arena. She crafts this speech specifically to motivate and empower the audience to envision greatness in their own lives. The core focuses are passion, plan and perseverance.
- Success is a Journey, NOT a Destination
Dominique Dawes won Olympic gold. But, for her, success is so much more than medals and accolades: it's something she worked hard to achieve everyday en route to Olympic glory. Today she shares her personal and professional philosophy with audiences across the country. Called "D-3" - Determination, Dedication, Desire - it's what gave her the strength and confidence to handle the professional and personal challenges in her life, to persevere amidst defeat and triumph in victory. In emotionally uplifting presentations, Dawes shows audiences how to use D-3 to reformulate negative situations into positive ones and turn obstacles into victories - all while clearly demonstrating that success is a journey, not a destination.