Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Tri-C student Dominique Moceanu, 23, is returning to competition in a bid to qualify for the 2005 U.S. Gymnastics Championship, held this August in Indianapolis. Moceanu was the youngest member of the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal Gymnastics Team at 14-years-old.

Moceanu is the well-known face of Tri-C's "Take a Class" campaign. She is currently finishing up a degree in business and expects to graduate in fall 2005, when she plans to pursue a bachelor's degree from John Carroll University in University Heights.

Moceanu first announced her retirement from competitive gymnastics five years ago at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials following a knee injury. Since then she has kept active performing in exhibitions and professional competitions while balancing a full college course load, serving as part-time gymnastics coach, traveling nationwide to provide gymnastics clinics, fulfilling the duties of a homeowner, and contributing to her official website at www.dominique-moceanu.com.

The U.S. Classic, held July 21-22 in Virginia Beach, VA, will be Moceanu’s first elite competition in five years. “I’m fully aware that my upcoming performances will be compared to my efforts of the past,” says Moceanu, the 1998 Goodwill Games All-Around Champion and 1996 Olympic Gold Medallist.

“I’d like to make it clear that my return to gymnastics is not about unfinished business! I am much more focused on adding a new dimension to my gymnastics career, not simply living up to others' expectations.

“I’ve always been a very competitive and driven person,” says Moceanu. “But I must admit that my visit to Athens for the 2004 Olympics, post-Olympic touring, and the devotion of my fans strongly influenced my decision to return to competition.”

When asked about her long-term athletic goals, Moceanu says that she is centered on “a strong showing as a vault and floor specialist” at the 2005 U.S. Classic and 2005 U.S. Nationals, with the hope for a subsequent invitation to the National Team Training Camps (where World and Olympic Teams are selected).

Moceanu has been plotting her spirited return to the sport since November of 2004 when she began rigorously working herself into competitive shape thanks in part to sponsorship from Woodward Gymnastics Camp in Pennsylvania, where she will be teaching and training throughout the summer.

“If I remain on the course set by me and my coach, I'm confident that a return to the national stage is quite possible,” says Moceanu, who will resume training in the fall at Gymnastics World in Broadview Heights, Ohio. She will be coached by former Ohio State gymnast, first year surgical resident, and longtime boyfriend, Michael Canales.

Moceanu is confident that she is right on track to achieve her goals. “Mike has a genuinely global understanding of gymnastics. The focus of our training is sound technique, mental readiness, belief and adherence to a long-term plan, and obsession with details.”

“This is the finest training situation I have been involved with since the Karolyi’s,” she further adds, referring to her childhood coaches, the gymnastics powerhouse team of Bela & Martha Karolyi.

Moceanu is proud to have the support of her family as she moves forward in her training. When fielding questions regarding her 1999 public emancipation, she remarks, “1999 and 2000 were trying times for me and my family, but I’m pleased to report that we’ve emerged from the situation a stronger unit. I’m so happy with how our relationships have grown.”

With increased minimum age requirements now in effect, Moceanu is assured of retaining her status as the youngest U.S. Senior National Champion (13) and youngest American gymnast ever to win an Olympic gold medal. 

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