Dominique Moceanu

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Guest on Jeff Probst


9/30/1981, Hollywood, California, USA

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  • Credits
  • Biography
  • Dominique Moceanu is the daughter of two Romanian immigrants who defected to the United States in 1980. Dominique was born September 30, 1981 and from the start her parents wanted her to be a gymnast. When she was only one-year-old her parents strung a clothesline across their kitchen and had Dominique hang onto it to test her strength--and the line fell before she did!

    Dominique's father, Dimitry, moved the family around the United States in order for Dominique to receive the best training money could buy, and eventually Dominique was accepted into the famed Bela Karolyi's gym in Houston, Texas. Dominique trained there for many years, becoming the youngest Junior National Champion in 1994 and the youngest Senior National Champion in 1995. All seemed well leading up to the 1996 Olympic Games until she competed in the 1996 Senior National Championships and discovered that she had a four centimeter stress fracture in her right tibia. Heartbroken and devastated, Dominique underwent intensive physical therapy and recooperation with the hopes that maybe she would be healed in time for the Olympic Games. She petitioned to the Olympic Trials, where they would be picking the seven girls to be on the Olympic team, hoping that her reputation and scores from a previous meet would keep her in the running. It, indeed, was enough and Dominique was on the Olympic team and her leg had healed, so she was all ready to go! She helped the United States team win the first team gold medal in history for the United States.

    After 1996 Bela retired and Dominique bumped around the country from gym to gym until the gym that her father had built her with her Olympics earnings was completed and she had a new coach, Lumi Miscenco. After coming back from a bad year in 1997 Dominique won the gold medal in the All-Around at the 1998 Goodwill Games, but the joy was not to last. By the end of the year she had taken her parents to court for abuse and mistreatment of the money she had earned and was declared a legal adult at the age of 17. The media blew up the event, saying that Dominique was trying to divorce her parents, but Dominique said it was about being able to control her own money and her future. After that Dominique took nearly a year off of training and eventually ended up being coached by Marylee Tracey, one of the Olympic coaches from 1996, and tried to make the 2000 Olympic Team, but she sustained a bad knee injury at the Olympic Trials and did not make the team. Today, Dominique is still training and is coaching younger gymnasts. She competed in the 2006 American Classic Competition, but did not qualify for the 2006 National Championships. After the disappointment of being denied the opportunity to compete at Nationals Dominique decided to retire from competition, but continues to perform in exhibitions and hosts her own competition called the Dominique Moceanu Invitational. On December 25, 2007, Dominique and her husband, Michael Canales, welcomed their first child, daughter Carmen Noel into their family.moreless

    Birth Name:

    Dominique Helena Moceanu



    Birth Place:

    Hollywood, California, USA

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (30)

    • Dominique Moceanu: (when asked why she sung the Karolyis' praises in her 1995 autobiography, then turned on them several years later) At fourteen years old, what else could I say about the Karolyis? I was never allowed to speak out, for fear of punishment. A common question is, "Why didn't you just leave if it was so bad?" and while that seems logical, bear in mind that the Olympics were literally weeks away when things were at their worst, and my entire family had moved to Houston in hopes of seeing me reach my goal. Needless to say, it wouldn't have been easy to leave. When you're in it, you're engrossed with the task at hand, and you lose sight of the big picture...quite simply, I didn't know that training and treatment could be conducted in another manner. I just thought, "This is how it has to be." I'm wiser now.

    • Dominique Moceanu: (on how she thinks that Bela and Marta Karolyi, who prepared her for the 1996 Olympics, should be removed as gymnastics coaches) If it were up to the athletes, it would have been done a long time ago...I'm not saying that you don't have to work hard, but what was done shouldn't have been done. I think there's a better way to do it, bottom line. I've had several coaches after the Karolyis, and I know that it can be done in a healthier way, both physically and emotionally.

    • Dominique Moceanu: Once I got to the Karolyis', I learned very quickly what the word "diet" was. This is probably gonna sound crazy, but my aunt had given me this huge teddy bear while I was training before the Olympics, and she literally had Mentos, Twizzlers, and gum hidden in it for me, so I could keep it in my room. I laugh now because I'm psychologically over all that stuff, but I did feel deprived, and I couldn't wait for the Olympics to be over so I could go and grab some brownies! That's not how a 14-year-old should react after winning the biggest competition of their life with their teammates.

    • Dominique Moceanu: (about her gymnastics life) It was a strict environment, all business, very little compassion, and it was a job. A lot of the fun was taken out of it for me at that time. Let me give you an example. 10 years old, I had a torn hamstring. 12 years old, a wrist injury. 14 years old, going into the Olympics with a tibial stress fracture. 18, knee surgery. We were taught to be a warrior. Don't say anything. If you do, there are repercussions, and at the elite scene, you see a lot of coaches overlooking the injury because of that dream.

    • Dominique Moceanu: I'd like to be remembered like the old Dom, just smiling and having fun. The Dom they first fell in love with, that smile, that young Dominique. I want people to realize how much I've been through and understand that you know what? It was a hard road, but I gave it my all. Just being a two-time Olympian would have meant a lot to me. That would have just been great, like at the end of the rainbow, the pot of gold. But at least in my heart, I know that I tried. I still had it in me.

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    Trivia (49)

    • Dominique's second child, son Vincent Michael, was born on March 13th, 2009.

    • A few years before the 1996 Olympics, when Dominique was signing autographs for fans, she wrote on one of them, "Dominique Moceanu, 1996 Olympic Champion, For Sure."

    • Dominique and husband, Dr. Michael Canales, welcomed their first child, daughter Carmen Noel Canales, on Christmas Day, 2007.

    • Dominique was 4"6 and weighed a reported 72 pounds when she was a 14-year-old competitor in the 1996 Olympics. 11 years later, she grew 10 inches and proudly stated that after being the shortest member of the USA Olympic team, she was now the tallest of them all.

    • At the height of her fame, during the 1996 OIympics, Dominique was often referred to as being "half Mary Lou Retton, half Nadia Comenici."

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