Saturday, April 29, 2006
  SMALL TALK (PENSACOLA NEWS JOURNAL)

Ten years ago, her legs were too small to reach the floor while sitting at an Olympic news conference. Her mind was too young to recognize what happened.

That's why it's great to see 1996 Olympic gold-medal gymnast Dominique Moceanu, who visited a Gulf Breeze gymnastics center Saturday, reviving her career. This time, it's on her terms. It's best when any successful athlete can control the exit.

Whether Moceanu makes the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, the sport will be in better shape by her influence. Moceanu never is afraid to speak her mind, which makes her an insightful interview.

Too often, Olympic gymnasts -- and skaters, for that matter -- are chewed up through childhood, burned out by 19, unable to enjoy or reap the financial rewards they should have received. Moceanu, who turns 25 in September, is a college student, businesswoman, competitive athlete, bride-to-be.

She wants gymnasts to avoid some of the same problems she encountered. Her passion, her commitment, should ensure it gets done.

--Bill Vilona 







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