Dominique Moceanu was the 1995 US national all-around champion, and a member of the gold-medal-winning 1996 Olympic team.
Always the Youngest:
Moceanu first qualified to the US junior national team at age 10, the youngest athlete to qualify to the team. One year later she earned a silver medal at the 1992 US nationals, and became the youngest medalist of the meet. In 1995, Moceanu moved to the senior ranks and became the US national champion at age 13. She was the youngest to ever win, and because of the current age restrictions, will remain the youngest.
After winning the all-around title at nationals, Moceanu was heavily hyped as a favorite going into the 1995 world championships. She lived up to the pressure, earning fifth place all-around and a silver medal on beam. She also helped the US team to a bronze.
A Pre-Olympic Injury:
Moceanu finished third at the 1996 US nationals, and after the meet, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her shin. She was forced to sit out the 1996 Olympic Trials, but was allowed to use her nationals scores to qualify onto the team. Shannon Miller
, the national champ that year, also sat out Olympic Trials because of injury and made the Olympic team as well.
The Atlanta Olympics:
The Olympics was an up-and-down competition for Moceanu. The US team won gold, and became the first American women's team to achieve this feat. Moceanu hit the first three events of the team competition, but sat down both of her vaults on the final apparatus, leading to a dramatic finish: teammate Kerri Strug landed her final vault on an injured ankle
, for the win.
Strug was too injured to compete in the all-around, so Moceanu took her place, finishing in ninth after errors on beam and floor, but, ironically, nailing a perfectly stuck vault during the meet.
In event finals, Moceanu showed her incredible toughness after a frightening fall on her layout series. Despite hitting her head on the beam, she held on and finished the rest of the routine. On floor, Moceanu finished just out of the medals, in fourth.
Moceanu went on tour with the Olympic team after the Games. She qualified to the 1997 worlds team, but was not yet back in top form. By 1998, however, she was much improved, and won the biggest all-around title of her career at the Goodwill Games. Some experts believe she could have won the world all-around title in 1998, but no worlds were held that year.
In October of 1998, Moceanu filed for divorce from her parents, alleging mismanagement of the money she'd earned, among other things. Because of the turmoil in her personal life, she trained at several different gyms and missed the 1999 US nationals before ending up at Cincinnati Gymnastics. Moceanu placed 8th at the 2000 nationals, but withdrew from the 2000 Olympic Trials with a knee injury and was not selected to the Olympic team.
Dominique Moceanu was born on September 30, 1981 in Hollywood, California. Her parents, Dumitru and Camelia Moceanu, were both gymnasts in Romania, and her father told the press that the couple had decided their first child would be a gymnast. Moceanu has a sister, Christina, born in 1989.
Moceanu married Michael Canales on November 4, 2006 in Houston, Texas. Canales is a former Ohio State gymnast and a foot and ankle surgeon. Their first child, Carmen Noel Canales was born on December 25, 2007, and their second, Vincent Michael Canales, on March 13, 2009.