I've always been a big fan of Dominique Dawes. When she first broke out on the scene she was best known for her fast tumbling, lots of back-to-back passes with fun combinations. (Let's resurrect that trend, by the way--it's so fun to watch a great tumbler just tumble.) This was probably the first time I saw her:
Here she is, at only 12 in 1989. Bless her little heart, pulling out a full-in for her last pass and not quite making it around:
And despite being known for tumbling, she turned out to be a really great all-arounder. This 1996 beam routine is not only beautiful, it's full of risk.
Finally, she's still going strong at the 2000 Olympics. What a career, what a gymnast, what a role model.
Another nice thing about Dominique was that she stuck with her coach, Kelli Hill, throughout her gymnastics career. At the time, Karolyi was at the height of his teenage gymnast manufacturing operation and there was a lot of gym-hopping amongst elites. But Dominique knew what worked for her and I dig loyalty.
When I was 14 I had a friend who loved writing fan letters to gymnasts. She gave me an address for Dominique and that was my one and only fan letter. Dominique replied with a really long, super nice letter, and at the bottom said, "P.S.--where did you get this address?" Oops....got it from my friend, Dominique. Sorry, hope you didn't think I was a crazy stalker. Just a happy little gymnast.