Dominique "Domi" Helena Moceanu (born September 30, 1981 in Hollywood, California) is an American gymnast who was a member of the Olympic Gold medal winning 1996 U.S. Women's Gymnastics team in Atlanta (the "Magnificent Seven").
The hallmarks of Moceanu's gymnastics, in the early stage of her elite career, were daring tricks on balance beam and spunky, inspired presentations on the floor exercise. In the latter part of her elite career, under the direction of new coaches, she developed a more elegant, mature style. Although she was never considered to be an overwhelmingly innovative gymnast, she did display a high level of difficulty in her gymnastics, particularly on beam and floor.
Moceanu trained under coaches Marta and Béla Károlyi, and later, Luminiţa Miscenco and Mary Lee Tracy. She earned her first National Team berth at the age of 10 and went on to represent the United States in various major international competitions at the junior level. She was the all-around silver medalist at the 1992 Junior Pan Am Games and the 1994 junior U.S. National Champion. In 1995, at the age of 13½, Moceanu became the youngest gymnast ever to win the senior all-around title at the U.S. National Championships. She was the youngest member of both the 1995 World Championships team and the gold medal-winning 1996 Olympic squad, the Magnificent 7, and was popular with both the public and with gymnastics fans.
Moceanu's last major success in gymnastics was the 1998 Goodwill Games, where she became the only American ever to win the all-around gold medal. Family issues, coaching changes and injuries derailed her efforts to participate in the Sydney Olympics, and she retired in 2000.
Since retirement, Moceanu has continued to participate in gymnastics exhibitions, work as a coach, and pursue her post-secondary studies. She is currently married and a mother of two.
Early Career and the Magnificent 7
Moceanu was born on September 30, 1981 in Hollywood, Florida to Romanian parents Dumitru (1954–2008), and Camelia Staicu (b. 1961). She also has a younger sister, Christina, born on August 24, 1989. Moceanu's parents, who had both been gymnasts in their native Romania, had early aspirations for her gymnastics career: while she was still a young toddler, they tested her strength by allowing her to hang from a clothesline. Moceanu was raised Romanian Orthodox by her devout mother. Her faith figured prominently in her career as a gymnast. Whether it was psychological or not, Moceanu said, "...it defintely helped me as an athlete to have [rosaries and prayer booklets] in my bag and feel safe."
Moceanu began gymnastics classes in Illinois at the age of 3½ and later trained at LaFleur's club in Florida. In 1991, at the age of 10, she moved to Houston, Texas, where she became one of the last gymnasts to be trained by the legendary Romanian coaches Marta and Béla Károlyi. She began competing internationally at a young age, earning her first U.S. National Team berth in 1992. At the age of 10½, in the spring of 1992, she earned five medals—gold in the team event, uneven bars, vault and floor exercise; silver in the all-around—at that year's Junior Pan Am Games.
Under Károlyi's tutelage, Moceanu became the U.S. Junior National Champion in 1994. In 1995 she repeated her success as a senior, becoming the youngest gymnast ever to win the U.S. National Championships. She was also the youngest member of the American team at the 1995 World Championships in Sabae, Japan. Moceanu did not disappoint, earning the highest American placement in the all-around competition and becoming the only American gymnast to win an individual medal, a silver on the balance beam.
Moceanu's national and international successes, combined with her plucky, bubbly attitude, earned her attention and a wide fan base both in and out of the gymnastics community. In the months leading up to the Atlanta Olympics, she was one of the most recognizable faces of USA Gymnastics, eclipsing more decorated teammates such as Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes. Before the Olympics, Moceanu was featured in Vanity Fair and wrote an autobiography, Dominique Moceanu: An American Champion. The book was highly successful and ranked number seven on the New York Times' Best Sellers List.
Moceanu was expected by many to be a major medal threat at the 1996 Olympics. However, following the 1996 U.S. Nationals, where she placed third in the all-around, she was diagnosed with a four-centimeter stress fracture in her right tibia. Her injury forced her to sit out the Olympic Trials, but she was petitioned onto the team on the strength of her Nationals scores.
At the Olympics, still struggling with her injury and sporting a heavily bandaged leg, Moceanu contributed heavily to the team gold medal, turning in such strong performances that she qualified for the event finals on balance beam and floor exercise. However, she faltered in the last rotation of team finals, falling on both of her vaults. She only advanced to the all-around finals as a replacement for injured teammate Kerri Strug. Small mistakes cost her a medal, but she still placed a respectable ninth. In the balance beam event final, Moceanu suffered a horrifying fall when she missed a foot on a layout and crashed into the balance beam on her head. She finished the exercise and went on to a strong performance in the floor finals later that day, finishing fourth and just missing a medal.
Following the Atlanta Olympics, Moceanu participated in numerous events and professional gymnastics exhibitions, including a 100-city tour, before returning to competition. With the retirement of the Károlyis, she began training with other coaches at Moceanu Gymnastics, a gym constructed and run by her family.
Out of peak form, Moceanu placed ninth at the 1997 US Nationals. She participated in the 1997 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, leading a new and mostly inexperienced US team. She was elected team captain, and qualified for the all-around final, but the competition was not a positive experience for her.
By 1998 however, Moceanu returned to top form. Under the tutelage of her new coach, Lumereanita Miscenco, she adjusted to a significant growth spurt and developed a clean, elegant style. She was selected for the American team at the 1998 Goodwill Games, where she became the only American to ever win the all-around title. In doing so, she defeated reigning World all-around champion Svetlana Khorkina, as well as the World silver and bronze medalists, Simona Amânar and Elena Produnova. She not only won the competition, she dominated the rest of the field. Outscoring the second place finisher and future 1999 World All Around Champion Maria Olaru by .687 points. Many consider this competition to be the highlight of Moceanu's career.
Training with Mary Lee Tracy at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy (CGA), Moceanu placed 8th at the 2000 U.S. Nationals. She qualified for the Olympic Trials, but was forced to withdraw with a knee injury.
In the fall of 2000, Moceanu participated in a post-Olympics national exhibition tour. She also participated in one of the post-Athens Olympics gymnastics tours in 2006, the "Rock N' Roll Gymnastics Championships".
After a five-year hiatus from elite gymnastics, Moceanu announced a return to competition in 2005. However, injury kept her from competing in the 2005 Nationals. She remained committed to her comeback efforts, training on floor and vault.
In the summer of 2006, Moceanu was invited to attend the USA Gymnastics national training camp. She also competed at the 2006 US Classic, where she performed decently on vault, successfully executing a full twisting Tsukahara vault. On floor, she went out of bounds on her tucked full-in pass and fell on her double pike, posting one of the lowest FX scores of the meet.
In a decision that proved to be somewhat controversial, Moceanu was not able to qualify to the 2006 U.S. National Championships. Moceanu stated that she had been informed that she would advance to Nationals by attending the National Training Camp and competing at least two events at the Classic. Despite meeting these requirements, she was not able to qualify to Nationals based on her Classic performances. Moceanu appealed this decision with USA Gymnastics, but the ruling was not overturned.
In late 1998, Moceanu left home and sued for legal emancipation from her parents in order to regain control of the money she had earned as a professional gymnast. In the resulting court case and television interviews, Moceanu stated that her father had squandered her sizable earnings and had an abusive, controlling nature. The court approved her petition for emancipation and control of her finances. However, Moceanu did eventually reconcile with both of her parents.
|1991||Junior American Classic||7|
|1992||Junior U.S. Classic||10|
|Junior Pan-American Games||1st||2nd||1st||1st||1st|
|1993||Junior American Classic||10|
|Junior U.S. Classic||8|
|1994||Junior American Classic||4|
|U.S. National Championships||1st|
|U.S. National Championships||1st||3rd||6||5||2nd|
|Sabae World Championships||3rd||5||2nd||7|
|1996||U.S. National Championships||3rd|
|Atlanta Olympic Games||1st||9||6||4|
|1997||U.S. National Championships||9||2nd|
|Lausanne World Championships||6||14|
|1998||U.S. National Championships||3rd||2nd||2nd||3rd|
|New York Goodwill Games||1st|
|U.S. National Championships||8|
1998 - "Reel Around the Sun" by Riverdance