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Black Women Who Broke Barriers in Gymnastics
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports writer
Published March 10, 2022

Dionne Foster

At the age of 13, gymnast Dionne Foster was named the first elite gymnast in the state of Alabama. Her talents landed her on the USA National Team although she was still a high school student. An injury would keep her from competing in the 1988 Olympic Trials. During her time at the University of Alabama, Foster became the SEC Female Athlete of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year. She also became a 17-time All-American, a nine-time regional champion, and a four-time champion.

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Luci Collins

Inglewood native Collins went on to become the first Black female to make the United States Olympic team in 1980. However former president Jimmy Carter had the U.S. Olympic Team boycott the 1980 Moscow games. She tried out for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics but did not qualify for the national team.

Dominique Dawes

Dawes, along with Jair Lynch, became the first Black gymnast to win an event medal during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She was also a member of the 1996 Olympic gymnastics team that won a gold medal. USA Gymnastics gave Dawes 1994 Sportsperson of the Year honors. During that year, Dawes won all four events and the all-around title during the Coca-Cola National Championships. She founded the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics Academy and Ninja.

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Dianne Durham

Durham is the first Black woman to win a United States National Championship in 1983 at the age of 15. In 1981, she won the junior elite all-around title in the U.S. National championships and defended her title the next year. Complications dealing with an ankle injury kept her from being a member of the U.S. National Team for the Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Durham became a coach and owned a gymnastics school named Syline Gymnastics. In 2017, she was inducted into the U.S. Gymnastics Regional Hall of Fame. Durham passed away in February 2021 after having a short illness.

Categories: History | History (Sports) | News (Sports) | Sports
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