Monday, July 23, 2012

Dominique Moceanu's Book

Soooo, I am still obsessed with all things Olympics, especially women's gymnastics.  I bought Dominique Moceanu's Memoir book called Off Balance. I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars because I loved to read all of the details about the Karolyis, the training, and little hints of information about some of my favorite gymnasts from the 92 and 96 Olympics.

Book Spoiler Alert! Don't read below this if you want to read the book and not know what happens.

To summarize the book:

Dominique's family gave up a daughter that was born without legs for adoption.  They believed that they did not have money to care for a child with any medical issues.  The child was 6 years younger than Dominique.  What the daughter was old enough, her adopted parents told her the truth.  This girl is an amazing athlete and lives a very full life without legs.

The Karolyis are not the people they appear to be in the media.  I can understand/forgive putting the gymnasts through brutal workouts, not allowing them to eat much, and monitoring the athletes 24/7.  I cannot understand how they were very uninvolved in the day to day training.  They provided no direct guidance and shuffled the girls between various coaches.  They always acted lovingly and supportive in front of the cameras but really did not have a strong relationship as coach / supporter and took the credit for the training even though they were not responsible.  They also didn't allow any celebrating or encouragement because it would give the athletes a big head.  According to the book, the Karolyis benefit financially from the Olympic training camps that are held at their ranch every year and they are the ones that established these camps as a requirement.

Dominique was granted emancipation from her parents at age 17 because she did not like the way her over bearing father was not keeping her in involved about her financial gains from her tours / sponsorships and apparently he spent all the money building a dream gym that never became a success.  

Dominique made quite a comeback at age 24.  I did not know about this.  She has some resentment towards a board of 3 Marta Karolyi, Kim Zmeskal, and somebody else I don't remember for voting against her entry to the 2006 National Championships.  The book did not spell out hatred towards Kim, one of her old training partners, but hinted at it.  Me being the Kim fan that I am, I had to go off and research.  They apparently are not on good terms, but I am not sure that Kim is at fault for anything.

Overall, Dominique had a very tough childhood and young adult life.  Her situation was further complicated by a Romanian father that was abusive and the lack of support from her coaches that she spent more than 40 hours a week with (the Karolyis).  She was so successful in her career because she gave up her young life and dedicated it all to gymnastics.  I imagine all elite level gymnasts have to make this huge sacrifice. 

I don't know that we can make any judgments about life in the gym with the Karolyis because we don't know all sides of the story, but the book was definitely an eye opener to me.  Even today, there are complaints about the Karolyis having too much power in the US Gymnastics world.  There was the Chellsie Memmel issue. The fact that the winner of the trials gets an automatic entry to the Olympics, but the rest of the Olympic team is all decided by a board where Marta has the influence. 

I wanted to get more answers about Kim being part of a team that voted down Dominique's return so I did some research.  It seems that more people are of the opinion that Dominique is a little bit crazy and has some incorrect hatred against Kim.  Kim asks what planet Dominique is from.  Ahh..the drama.  Ahh..the drama played up by the media.   Read the book.  Ponder the info.  Pity Dominique's lack of childhood.  Consider the fact that it is a one sided story.  You should definitely consider my opinion as I am an expert because I took gymnastics from the age of 3 to 13. I once scored a 3.0 on bars to further my credit.

In all my research, I came across a blog that posts opinions and updates about women's gymnastics almost daily.  Check it out if you would like to stay current with the events.

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At July 23, 2012 at 9:36 PM , Blogger Lena said...

I actually saw a special on this but I can't remember what it was called (perhaps on 20/20). It really focused more on the successful gymnast, her overbearing parents, and her sister. Glad to understand from the special that the sisters have established and maintained a close rapport.

How neat that you took gymnastics for 10 years. It was always something that interested me but I didn't have the opportunity to pursue. I was convinced I'd be great at it since I am vertically challenged. Kudos on your 3.0! ;)


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