The gymnastics career you saw flourish on the bars, beam, vault and floor at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games began at the tender age of three for Dominique Moceanu. As part of the “Magnificent Seven” she took home gold and inspired countless young gymnasts around the world.
One of the girls who idolized Moceanu, Jennifer Bricker, had much more in common with the medal-winning athlete than she could have ever dreamed. The two were in fact sisters—Bricker had been given up for adoption at birth after being born without legs. Despite growing up in separate households, both participated in and loved gymnastics. The pair reunited in 2007 after Bricker found legal documents and shared them with Moceanu (who confronted her parents for the truth).
Now, Moceanu is sharing details about this experience, her time training as an all-star gymnast and more in her new memoir, Off Balance. We sat down with her while she was in town with the sister she was raised with, Christina, to learn about her new book and who she thinks will strongly represent the U.S. in gymnastics at the London Olympics.
We can’t wait to ask: Which athletes do you think will lead the way in London next month?
Team USA won the last world championship, so the gold is theirs to lose. There have been a lot of individual stars in recent years, but now they have a strong team and new coaches. Jordyn Wieber is solid mentally and a tough competitor. Gabrielle Douglas is a shining star, who is coached by [Liang] Chow, Shawn Johnson’s coach. Alicia Sacramone is a friend of mine, so I’ll be watching in the wings and cheering her on. We’ll see if Nastia Liukin can make the team as a specialist in bars and beam. At this point, it’s all about staying healthy.
Why did you decide to write Off Balance—and why now?
It took seven years for me to write it and process everything. I wanted to tell the true story of my life. Some media outlets have given tidbits, but I wanted to share it from my perspective. I also wanted to share my experiences as an athlete so I could leave women’s gymnastics better than I found it.
You’re open about your battles with insecurities in your new book. How have you learned to overcome them?
Over the last decade I’ve been building strength. My husband, who did men’s gymnastics, gives me courage. He’s been a driving force in boosting my confidence and has helped me find my voice.
Now as a mom of two, how do you stay fit?
For me it’s all about finding the right balance. Three to four times a week I go to the gym for a strength workout to condition my whole body. I do push-ups, V-ups, leg lifts and hop up on the hanging bar to feel like a gymnast again. I try to do outdoor activities with my kids. We love to go to the park and climb. You have to be fit to run around with two toddlers, and I want to have the energy to be able to play with them!
Will you encourage your kids to participate in gymnastics or sports?
My kids take gymnastics, but my daughter also loves skating, painting and art. I don’t want to push them because they should lead the way. I want them to feel like they’re playing and loving the sport—and doing all of that in a nurturing environment.
Now tell us: Which former Olympians would you like to see write a tell-all memoir?