5 Black Gymnasts Who Made a Big Impact in the Game

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Black women haven’t been the norm in gymnastics. They’ve always been seen to be inferior and unfit for the sport. However, some black gymnasts have defied these stereotypes and proven that black women can excel in these spaces. 

A significant number are now known globally and have competed in the biggest events in the world. Keep reading to find out.

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Dominique Dawes

Spotcovery-5 Black Gymnasts Who Made a Big Impact in the Game
Dominique Dawes giving a keynote address. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-PD-Mark

Dominique Dawes was one of the most successful black gymnasts in the sport. She was part of one of America’s most famous gymnast teams the “Magnificent Seven” at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. 

Dawes was one of the first black women to win individual Olympic medals in the event, Additionally, she won an individual bronze medal in floor exercises and is among an elite group who have gone to three Olympics.

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Gabrielle Douglas

Spotcovery-5 Black Gymnasts Who Made a Big Impact in the Game
Gabby Douglas in a past gymnast competition. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-3.0-BR

Gabby Douglas made her comeback to the scene in 2023 after the Rio Olympics. Many thought that her career was over but she’s determined to get back to the top and is eyeing a place at the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

The gymnast has three Olympic gold medals – London 2012 and the Rio Games – and other competitions like the World Championships and the Pacific Rim Championships. 

In her career, she’s been on the receiving end of media criticism for attempting to revive her career and for being a black woman in a mostly white sport. 

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Simone Biles

Simone Biles World Record. Video Credit: Smith Fam Media

Simone Biles is the most successful female gymnast in the world. She has 34 World Championships and Olympic medals – 27 Worlds and seven medals in team events and individual events. The gymnast has five routines named after her, including The Biles on Floor routine, the Biles II on Flour and the Biles on Beam.

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Dianne Durham

A look back at Dianne Durham. Video Credit: ABC 7 Chicago

Dianne Durham is one of the black gymnasts who did the sport when it was difficult for blacks and people of color to get in. Nonetheless, she became the first African American to win a senior title at the women’s US National Championships. During her career, Durham won eight gold medals, three silvers and two bronze.

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Luci Collins

Luci Collins in a past competition. Video Credit: MizMamie

Luci Collins was the first black gymnast to make the Olympic team. Unfortunately, she didn’t participate in the 1980 Summer Olympics Games because the USA team boycotted the event, but she’s still credited for being the first black female gymnast in the Olympics. 

These black gymnasts have proven to be just as capable as their white counterparts. It’s not been without criticism that they’ve achieved the success they’ve had but their resilience has made the sport accessible to all.  

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