All the excitement surrounding the gold-medal winning 2012 U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics team has brought attention back to the first team to achieve that feat—the Magnificent Seven, who won gold at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Dominique Moceanu was 14 at those games, the youngest and smallest girl on a team of pixies.
But behind the cameras, she struggled to manage the expectations of her demanding, stubborn, and often punishing father and coaches, the pressures of elite competition, the threat of injury, and the desire to take control of her own life.
In her memoir Off Balance (Touchstone, 2012), Moceanu offers a glimpse into her surprising life so far—from realizing the dream of Olympic gold and the hardships that made that dream possible, to emancipating from her parents in a public trial at 17, to discovering a long-lost sister given up for adoption, born without legs and yet living a parallel life in competitive gymnastics. She spoke with Christianity Today about how she has dealt with all that life has thrown at her, and how her faith has played a role in it all.
At 23 you found out you had a third sister, Jennifer, whom your parents had given up for adoption when you were 6, because she was born without legs and they knew they could not afford to care for her. What has that relationship meant to you?
My sisters and I, we all say that this happened for a reason. All the dots were connected from above, because all of this is too unbelievable to have it be just coincidence. Jennifer is very faithful, and Christina is faithful, and we all believe that God was leaving clues so she could find us one day. But she needed to be in the family she was placed in so she could blossom and grow ...