Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Winners of the U.S. Classic

Every year, the U.S. Classic precedes the National Championships, and during an Olympic year, it’s especially significant. Since the competition’s start in 1983, won by Dianne Durham, seven black gymnasts have won the title of U.S. Classic champion. Please take the time to watch these ladies in action!

Dianne Durham, 1983

Dominique Dawes, 1993

Tasha Schwikert, 2001

Annia Hatch, 2002

Olivia Courtney, 2009

Mattie Larson, 2010

Simone Biles, 2014 & 2015

We are proud to salute our Black Gymnasts who have won the U.S. Classic!

Wendy

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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Gymnasts with Skills Named After Them

What a unique honor and feat when gymnasts get skills named after them! To do so, gymnasts must successfully complete a skill at a World Championships or an Olympic Games.

Four black U.S. gymnasts have skills named after them that are still included in the current FIG Code of Points. 

Betty Okino
– Uneven bars: clear underswing with 180 degree twist to back flip in stretched position
– Balance beam: triple turn on one leg

Jair Lynch
– High bar: Tkatchev with a half turn prior to the catch to a mixed el-grip and swing back up to handstand

Simone Biles
– Floor exercise: Double layout half out

Donnell Whittenburg
– Still rings: Triple back pike dismount

We are proud to salute these gymnasts who added something new to the sport while at the top of their game!

Wendy

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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Multi-Year Olympians


It is such a feat to reach Olympian-status in the sport of gymnastics — it is truly the pinnacle of the sport. What’s remarkable is that three Black Gymnasts have not only earned that honor more than once (Dominique Dawes 3x in 1992, 1996 and 2000; Jair Lynch 2x in 1992 and 1996; and Gabby Douglas 2x in 2012 and 2016), they’ve also all won individual medals. Dominique won a bronze on the floor exercise in 1996; Jair won a silver on parallel bars in 1996; and Gabby won a gold in the all-around in 2012.

Please take the time to read these athletes’ individual profiles (click the links above) and enjoy some videos of their performances at multiple Olympics!

Jair Lynch at the 1992 Olympics

Dominique Dawes at the 1992 Olympics

Jair Lynch at the 1996 Olympics

Dominique Dawes at the 1996 Olympics

Dominique Dawes at the 2000 Olympics

Gabby Douglas at the 2012 Olympics

Gabby Douglas at the 2016 Olympics

Wendy

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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Gabby Douglas

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-5-13-27-pmGabby!!

There is something about great athletes when everyone knows them by their first name!

The top prize in Women’s Gymnastics is the All-Around Olympic Gold Medal. The Olympics is just its own event, and nothing matches the anticipation, pressure, intensity and drama.

I was fortunate to be able to attend this event at the 2012 Games thanks to my friend, Shane Geraghty, who gave me his ticket! He saw in my eyes that I just had to see this live. It was as dramatic and edge-of-the-seat thrilling as any sport event I have ever seen.

Adding to the Olympic Gold was her all-around silver medal at the 2015 World Championships and her performance at the 2016 Olympics, where she helped the “Final Five” win a team gold medal. Wow wow wow! It is so RARE for an Olympic Champion to come back to a World Championships and another Olympic Games like Gabby did.

The impact of her win along with her comeback resonates strongly. She opened the door wide open and has inspired so many to the possibility of greatness.

Today for Black Gymnasts in History we salute 2012 Olympic Champion Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas.

Watch Gabby in action during her silver-medal-winning performance at the 2015 Worlds.

Wendy

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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Dominique Dawes

dominique_dawes

Not enough can be said about Dominique Dawes. She inspired not only thousands of girls to take up and pursue excellence in gymnastics—including the 2012 Olympic Champion Gabby Douglas—but oh so many non-gymnasts by her achievements, longevity and yes, the awesome way that she performed her routines.

She is the only U.S. gymnast to medal in three Olympics—just the fact that she made three Olympic teams is amazing. So long at the top of the sport – this intensified her impact not just on African Americans but also on all who admire the sport of gymnastics.

Dominique continues to inspire and has a long list of achievements outside of gymnastics. I was fortunate over the years to work alongside or closely with Dominique. We were both on Broadway at the same time and both worked in broadcasting and both served as President of the Women’s Sports Foundation.

I so appreciate that she has always supported my gymnastics foundation going back to the beginning—when she visited our free summer program in 1996 and in 2008, and spoke at my reception in NYC when I was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Superstar is an understatement, incredible is close, but “Awesome” will always be associated with Dominique Dawes. We are proud to feature her today in our Black Gymnasts in History Project. And we want to wish a special congratulations to Dominique on the recent birth of two twins!

Read a full profile on Dominique by NRP here: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/14/143661139/dominique-dawes-from-olympian-to-health-advocate

Watch a video of Dominique’s 1996 Olympic medal-winning floor routine.

Wendy

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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Olympic Medalists

As we posted yesterday, 13 African Americans have made the U.S. Olympic Team for gymnastics.

Among these amazing athletes, a total of 17 Olympic Medals have been won. Please enjoy the videos below of some of their-medal-winning routines!

Simone Biles (5) 4 Gold (2016 Team, All-Around, Vault, Floor Exercise), 1 Bronze (2016 Balance Beam)

Dominique Dawes (4) 1 Gold (1996 Team), 3 Bronze (1992 Team,1996 Floor Exercise, 2000 Team)

Gabby Douglas (3) 3 Gold (2012 Team, 2012 All-Around, 2016 Team)

Annia Hatch (2) 2 Silver (2004 Team, 2004 Vault)

Betty Okino (1) 1 Bronze (1992 Team)

Jair Lynch (1) 1 Silver (1996 Parallel Bars)

Tasha Schwikert (1) 1 Bronze (2000 Team)