Black Gymnasts in History 2018: NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Champions



The NCAA has been an outstanding platform for many Black gymnasts to showcase their talent. Many of these gymnasts competed for the USA on the national team and even the Olympics! There is something special about the maturity and expression of College Gymnastics.  These athletes come into their own and express it through their sport. In addition, most are superb students and have gone onto other challenging careers, taking their quest for excellence with them.

Today, we salute the NCAA Women’s National Gymnastics Individual Champions for Black Gymnasts in History.

Please see the full list below and click for more articles and videos to see the gymnasts in action.

NCAA Champions – All-Around

1989   Corinne Wright, Georgia
1990   Dee Dee Foster, Alabama
2001   Onnie Willis, UCLA Co-Champion
2005  Tasha Schwikert, UCLA
2008  Tasha Schwikert, UCLA
2012   Kytra Hunter, Florida
2015   Kytra Hunter, Florida Co-Champion

NCAA Vault Champions

1989   Kim Hamilton, UCLA
2003   Ashley Miles, Alabama
2004   Ashley Miles, Alabama
2006   Ashley Miles, Alabama
2012   Kytra Hunter, Florida
2013   Diandra Milliner, Alabama Co-Champion
2015   Elizabeth Price, Stanford

2016   Katie Bailey, Alabama
2017   Kennedi Edney, LSU

NCAA Uneven Bars Champions

1993    Agina Simpkins, Georgia
1996   Stephanie Woods, Alabama
2002   Andreé Pickens, Alabama
2008   Tasha Schwikert, UCLA
2017    Katie Bailey, Alabama

NCAA Balance Beam Champions

1999   Andreé Pickens, Alabama Co-Champion
2007   Ashley Postell, Utah
2016   Danusia Francis, UCLA

NCAA Floor Exercise Champions

1987   Kim Hamilton, UCLA
1988   Kim Hamilton, UCLA
1989   Kim Hamilton, UCLA Co-Champion
1989   Corinne Wright, Georgia Co-Champion
1995   Stella Umeh, UCLA Co- Champion
1997   Leah Brown, Georgia
1998   Stella Umeh, UCLA Co-Champion
2004   Ashley Miles, Alabama Co-Champion
2007   Morgan Dennis, Alabama
2015   Kytra Hunter, Florida
2016   Nina McGee, Denver


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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Simone Biles

Simone Biles. Her name stands on its own.

Our reigning Olympic champion is back in training for the 2020 Olympics and (should we be surprised?) already has all of her Olympic skills back.

Biles penned a bestselling autobiography in late 2016 and, tomorrow, we get to relive her incredible journey to the 2016 Olympics with the premiere of her Lifetime biopic. Watch the trailer below!

Black Gymnasts in History: Annia Hatch


Read our profile of Annia from 2016: 

Annia Portuondo Hatch Wooten- now that long name has a long and very impressive story to go with it.

I met Annia after receiving a call from the legendary Muriel Grossfeld. She said that Annia needed help as she was making a comeback for the Olympic Games. I knew her then-husband, the wonderful coach Alan Hatch, so of course I would do whatever I could. They did not need my help!

Anna went on to make the 2003 World Championship Team – but suffered a devastating knee injury. Lo and behold, she came back to win the team and individual silver medal at the 2004 Olympics on her signature event – vault.

After the Olympics, Annia had a great career as a fashion designer – I had a chance to go see one of her shows in NYC.

I am so grateful that Annia and Alan came to one of my foundation’s galas and Annia performed on beam- so super cool- she was gracious and gave great encouragement to the students in both English and Spanish.

Do read about Annia’s incredible journey here:

Annia Hatch- stylish, determined and gracious- we are proud to salute you today for Black Gymnasts in History.


Watch a video of Annia shortly after being named to the 2004 U.S. Olympic team:

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Black Gymnasts in History: Chainey Umphrey


Read our profile of Chainey from 2016: 

When I remember seeing Chainey Umphrey compete in gymnastics, I remember thinking he was strong, solid and calm.

Calm is an unusual description of an athlete but that is what comes to mind. It was always known that Chainey also wanted to be a doctor, and so it is not a surprise to learn of his success in the medical field.

When Chainey came to visit the WHGF’s free summer program, he also performed to the delight of the kids and the crowd. He was so gracious and inspiring, and made quite a powerful lasting impression.

Please take the time to read this profile:

For Black Gymnasts in History we salute Olympian and doctor Chainey Umphrey.

Watch a video of Chainey performing on floor at the 1996 Olympic Trials:


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Black Gymnasts in History: Dominique Dawes

dominique_dawesRead our profile of Dominique from 2016: 

Well—not enough can be said about Dominique Dawes. She truly inspired not only thousands of girls to take up and pursue excellence in gymnastics—including the 2012 Olympic Champion—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 for African Americans but also for 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.

Read a full profile on Dominique by NRP here:

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


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Black Gymnasts in History: Jair Lynch


Read our profile of Jair from 2016: 

It has been such a pleasure to see Jair Lynch go from an Olympian to Olympic Medalist to serving on the U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors to outstanding Real Estate Developer.

What can be said is that whatever Jair does, he is super successful. He was obviously an amazing gymnast, competing on two Olympic teams. His leadership skills shone through as the captain of the 1996 team.

His performance when he won the Olympic silver medal in 1996 was mesmerizing, full of drama, and exhilarating.

Over the years I would see Jair at the Olympics when he was on the USOC Board, and I have always admired his amazing skills as a leading businessman in Washington, D.C.

Do take a look at his website – it is impressive.

Jair Lynch, a true Renaissance man, we salute you today as part of our Black Gymnasts in History Project.

Watch Jair in his Olympic silver medal-winning parallel bars performance in 1996:


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Black Gymnasts in History: Betty Okino


Read our profile of Betty from 2016: 

Betty Okino – what a wonderful and elegant gymnast!

Long limbs can often be a challenge in artistic gymnastics- but when that challenge is overcome it makes for long lines, extension for days and very pretty routines.

Betty’s gymnastics was a delight to watch. On top of that she had some serious tricks up her leotard sleeve. The Okino is a triple turn on the balance beam. To the envy of most female artistic gymnasts who are always relieved to get that dreaded single turn on beam over with – Betty was spinning away.

It was not just the beam; Betty was incredibly successful on all of the events. Please take the time to read this interview from 2014, it is very informative:

At the 1992 Olympics, I was the rhythmic analyst for NBC and the sideline artistic gymnastics reporter (anyone remember the Triple cast?). Compulsories were still in the competition, which made for some pretty long days. The gymnasts would pass by me many times and I remember Betty and Kim asking (whispering) me if I had any candy stashed away that I could give them :).

No candy but Betty got her hardware winning a Team Bronze Medal – starting quite a trend, with the USA Women’s Gymnastics Team winning Team Olympic Medals in every Olympic Games from then on.

Betty Okino, we are delighted to feature you in our Black Gymnasts in History Project.

Watch Betty in action performing on the balance beam routine at the 1991 American Cup


Black Gymnasts in History: Dave Green



Dave Green and Flip City – legends indeed! On day two of the Harlem Gymnastics Invitational, I am reminded of Dave Green  because one of our trampoline judges for tomorrow is Pat Henderson, and Roger Walker came in tonight to make sure that our rod floor was marked properly for tumbling. Roger was one of the best tumblers in the world and now he is a great coach; Roger was one of Dave’s students.

The impact of Flip City was immense on so many levels. For the World Champions, for putting Newark on the map (in a positive way), and for providing an outlet for the youth that set them on a path to lead constructive and productive lives.

Oh yes, I am a big big fan–I always look to the success of Flip City and the trailblazing work of David Green. I often reach out when I need advice for my foundation.

We are honored to recognize Dave Green today for our Black Gymnastics in History project.

Please read more about Dave’s career here:


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Black Gymnasts in History: Taqiy Abdullah Simmons

Taqiy Abdullah Simmons


Taqiy made history by winning the Men’s NCAA All-Around title. His gymnastics and life story is very interesting; please take the time to learn about his rise to the top of NCAA Men’s gymnastics while maintaining his commitment to his hometown community.

Taqiy comes from a long line of Oklahoma gymnastics greats.

We congratulate his success and admire his continuing support of the sport through coaching.

Taqiy Abdullah Simmons, we salute you for our Black Gymnastics in History project.

Read more about Taqiy here:


Watch a video of Taqiy performing on the pommel horse in 2005:

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Black Gymnasts in History: Shenea Booth

Shenea (1)


Acrobatics (Sports Acro) is one of my favorite gymnastics disciplines. We had an acro team at the Detroit Metro Gymnasts, and I did some acro choreography back in the day.

I have only been able to watch from the sidelines, but the career that Sheana Booth had along with her partner, Arthur Davis, was incredible.

What has been as impressive as their competitive days is their professional career.

Being a finalist for America’s Got Talent allowed millions to witness their extraordinary skills.

For being one of the top acrobatic gymnasts in the world along with her partner- we are glad to feature Shenea Booth today in our Black Gymnasts in History project.

Read more about Shene and Arthur here:


Watch a video of Shenea performing with Arthur at the 2002 World Championships:

Shenea Booth and Arthur Davis

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