Ironically, one of the fiercest athletes in the 2016 Rio Olympics is also one of the smallest. Gymnast Simone Biles of Team USA, standing at just 4-foot-8, is the one watch during these games and has even earned the attention of retired Olympic Hall of Famer Dominique Dawes.
Twenty years after "Awesome Dawesome" nabbed the gold in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta making her the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in gymnastics, she’s cheering Simone on along with Tide’s #SmallButPowerful campaign. Biles has already cleaned up this Olympics with gold medals for Women’s Team All-Around and Women’s Individual All-Around, so it’s safe to say she’s pretty powerful.
Check out Tide’s video “The Evolution of Strong” featuring both Biles and Dawes:
Tide invited us to the Field House at Chelsea Piers in NYC during the women’s gymnastic finals to catch up Dominque on all things related to the sport and learn a move or two.
BET: The U.S. has a very strong women’s gymnastics team, and gymnastics overall is a favorite for Americans to watch — why do you think this is?
Dominique Dawes: You know, gymnastics is not on TV that much throughout the years, despite an Olympic year, you rarely see gymnastics on. So during the Olympics it’s like, “Oh, what have these young little girls been up to.” They’ve been training their whole childhood; it’s a great little story. So it’s such a popular game in the Olympics because it is a spectacular sport that people don’t see enough. I think we’ve become so dominant because we made the commitment to want to win. Other countries are having difficulty manning a five-man team, when three girls go up and compete and all three scores count.
B: How do you think other countries measure up?
DD: Today we won by nearly eight points, which is insane to think about. And so though it is great to Americans, it is really deserving to the sport of gymnastics. People like to watch sports where there’s that neck and neck finish to the end. That dramatic finish in the ‘96 Olympics with my teammate Kerri, where we were neck and neck with Russia and we were able to beat them by a few tenths, not a few points. So I really hope that these countries start making gymnastics a sport that they really want to focus on to have it be competitive again.
BET: Being a Black woman in 1996 in the Olympics, how have you seen that change now in 2016 where we see Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles dominating?
DD: Well, it was a blessing. Earlier today someone told me that they interviewed Gabby and Simone and they said I was their inspiration. It really does bring chills to me and tears from my eyes to know that I was able to inspire these young girls. I was so tired training. I always would get frustrated and I always wanted to quit but I always thought about those young gymnasts that are watching, those fans that have cheered me on and believed in me and that’s why I was able to compete and stay focused for three Olympic Games.
That’s what Simon Biles is going to do for this next generation of gymnasts and that’s what Gabby Douglas did, she won gold in the 2012 Olympics, she brought me to tears, and when I met the young girl for the first time I could see that possibility was in her eyes and I hope she continues to recognize that she can make such a positive impact now that she has another Olympic gold medal for the team.
B: How is your workout routine now compared to when you were training for the games?
DD: I would have to say my workout routine does not consist of going to the gym, it really consist of being a full time mom. I have a very active and energetic 2-and-a-half-year-old and an 11 month old that is on the go and already walking. And it’s really just being a stay at home mom and being active with my kids. The minute they get up at 6 or 6:30 in the morning, it’s about mommy giving them the right healthy food and snacks, it’s about getting up to the park, walking the mile and a half walk to Starbucks, which is near our home, and walking back. Running, jumping and doing dance parties at home with my girls and my husband is how we stay fit. It sounds like, “Oh, is that really a workout?” but when you’re at home with a toddler and an infant all day, it is, and so that’s what keeps me in shape today. And I love it.
BET: Would you put your girls to train?
DD: Everyone asks me that! When I was younger, I said if I’m ever blessed to have children, I would never put them in gymnastics. Then I heard Simone Biles said the same thing, but I’m turning 40 this year and my 2-and-a-half-year-old loves being in the gym and I’m not going to take that away from her. So I’ll put her in the sport and see how far she wants to take it. I just want to make sure she loves what she’s doing and she has fun.
(Photos from top: Mayleen Gonzalez/Tide)