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Dominique Dawes, First African American Gold Medal Olympic Gymnast, is 'Thrilled' For Gabby Douglas

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Aug 03, 2012 09:00 AM EDT

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After Gabby Douglas took home the gold medal for the women's gymnastics all-around, Dominique Dawes, the first African American to win a gymnastics gold medal,  said she is "thrilled."

On Thursday, 16-year-old Gabby Douglas or Virginia made Olympic history as the first African American to win gold in the women's gymnastics all-around just a few days after helping her team win the gold. With  a 62.232 score, Douglas defeated Russia's Victoria Kimova and Aliya Mustafina with high scores on the balance beam, the vault, her specialty, the uneven bars, and she ended with a high energy performance on the floor.

Not only is Douglas the first African American to take home the prize for the event, she is only the fourth American to win gold in the women's all-around, following Nastia Luikin in 2008 and Carly Patterson in 2004. The first American woman to win the title was Mary Lou Retton in 1984.

Domique Dawes, 35, was the first African American to win a gymnastics gold medal. Watching Douglas perform and succeed today, she could not be more proud of her. She is a three-time Olympian who won helped her team, the "Magnificent Seven" win gold in the 1996 Summer Games. She never earned a medal in the individual all-around competition.

As a role model to Douglas, Dawes is thrilled by the young girl's achievements. During an interview in which she was emotional with tears of joy, she said how happy she was for Douglas.

"I am so thrilled for Gabby, her mother (Natalie Hawkins), her family, her sisters, her dad," Dawes said in an interview with Fox Sports.

Dawes knows how nerve wracking Olympic competitions can be, so she said she was most impressed by how cool and collected Douglas appeared during her routines.

"I could not be more proud of her," Dawes said. She explained that she is happy to update her website and take down the fact that she was the only female African American gymnast to win a gold medal since Douglas now joins her, 16 years later.

Dawes knows what it's like to be a role model to young girls and minorities who aspire to becoming champion gymnasts. She's now happy to pass the torch along to Douglas who will inspire younger generations.  She is happy  "knowing that there's a whole generation of young kids looking up to her as they looked up to me."

Dawes spoke of the comments she received from 30 and 40-year-old women on Twitter who said that she had been their role model and now they are excited that Douglas is here to serve as a role model for their own kids.

"I was able to help Gabby and now she's going to help a whole other generation of young girls and boys -- African-Americans, Hispanics, other minorities, to see the sport of gymnastics as an opportunity for them to excel. It just touches me to be a part of that movement," Dawes said.

 

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