Gold medal winner Dominique Dawes to speak at Plachta Auditorium this week


Olympic gold medal winner Dominique Dawes will be speaking at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium.

Dawes,who won multiple national championships along with her Olympic medals during her 18 year career, will be giving a motivational speech detailing her life, career, struggles and triumphs, according to a Program Board news release.

She is the only U.S. Olympic gymnast to win medals in three consecutive team gymnastics competitions, according to the news release. The 1996 Olympic team she was apart of became famously known as the "Magnificent Seven" because the team won the U.S. its first-ever gold medal in the women's side of the sport.

CMU women's gymnastics head coach Jerry Reighard said having Dawes come to CMU speaks to the respect she has gained throughout her career.

"I think it commands a great deal of respect from the general population and especially from students," Reighard said. "They (Olympic athletes) have achieved what many of us only dream about."

Reighard has been coaching the women's gymnastic's team for 27 years and was a judge at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, judging the vaulting, floor exercise and parallel bars events.

He said Dawes' speech will have a great effect on his gymnastics team and Dawes' messages of hard work and dedication will get through to the team, especially considering the rigors of being a student athlete.

"The demands are even greater on Olympic athletes than a college athlete," he said.

Reighard said many of his current competitors on his team were very young when Dawes competed in the Olympics in the 1990s.

"She's been a name that they have heard but have never met her," he said. "My team members that are 18 were only 2 or 3 when she was competing."

He said having the chance for the team to hear her speak will be special.

"Her words might come across differently to the team than the other students," he said. "The kindred spirit of gymnast to gymnast I think is going to be very intriguing"