Dominique Dawes Opens up About the 'Hardships' She Dealt With in Her Career (Exclusive)

Dominique Dawes had a very successful gymnastics career, winning four Olympic medals and becoming the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics. But things weren't always great for Dawes as she dealt with her share of "hardships" while competing. PopCulture.com recently caught up with Dawes who talked about how she wants to change to the culture of gymnastics so the abuse she dealt with doesn't happen again.

"I do feel as if, while I was able to leave a lasting legacy in the sport of gymnastics, I am very committed to my legacy today, and that is about changing the culture of the sport of gymnastics," Dawes told PopCulture. "Because even though I was able to, as you mentioned, have these groundbreaking performances and make it to three Olympic teams, there were a lot of hardships that I did not have to go through, that I should not have had to go through, in the sport of gymnastics with regards to verbal, physical and psychological abuse."

Dawes also talks about being a mother has motivated her to be an advocate for changing the culture of the sport, which she is doing with her new docuseries Golden, which is streaming on Peacock. "I am now a mother of four kids, and my kids are not going to go through that," she said. "And they're not going to be in that type of unhealthy culture. And so I am very committed to making sure my legacy today is on changing the culture of the sport of gymnastics to ensure that kids that are in the sport today don't go through those levels of hardships. Also, sexual abuse has been rampant in the sport and the most recent news of an Olympic coach who was being charged with this. And so we need to change the sport. We need to shine the light on it, and I truly believe Golden allows us to do that, and I hope the change will happen following these series."

While things were challenging for Dawes, she realized she was making a positive impact. In 1996, Dawes won a gold medal with the "Magnificent Seven" team, making her the first Black person of any nationality or gender to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. But even before she gained fame in the Olympics, Dawes was getting attention at a very young age.

"I remember when I was about 11 years old, I started receiving my first pieces of fan mail," Dawes revealed. "Back in the day, it was like a snail mail where people would sit down, they would write, and they would send me photos. And I would literally take my school photos, sign them, and send them to people. My mom was like, 'Why are you giving out your school photos to people you don't know?' I recognize the impact that I could make on someone else's life when I was a very young age and that continued throughout my whole athletic career. I feel very blessed and honored to have been able to plant some positive seeds in people's lives."

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