Many years ago, probably sometime around 1993, I watched a movie on the television. It was a movie for children and I just happened to be in front of TV on that particular day and time. I don’t know the name of the movie as I could not watch the movie from its very beginning. The movie was about making of a gymnast. Father of a three year old girl, in USA probably, started to give her training of gymnastics. If I do remember correctly, the girl’s name was Maria. On her father’s insistence Maria had to undergo tough training and tight schedule. She was merely three years old —for her the gymnastics training was a painful routine. But her body had to be made flexible and full of stamina. When all the children want to be in the lap of sweet sleep, Maria had to get out of bed early in the morning at 4:00 AM. Then she would start different kinds of exercises under the supervision of her father. No prize for guessing, Maria was reluctant to do all this. So her father, who was determined to make her a successful gymnast, had to force her to go through the training. Maria was a school going kid as well. After gymnastics training, school work and then home work; there was literally no time left for her to play and to roam around with friends. It was shown in the movie that she was forbidden from eating as carelessly as her friends could eat. She had to control her diet to maintain her weight and stamina. Thus most of the time she had to avoid her favorite chocolates and ice creams. It’s difficult to imagine her courage and her determination.
As the time passed, Maria herself became very determined for her success. By the time she reached the age of six years, she willingly started to do all the exercise routines regularly. She grew more tolerant to all the pains which were unavoidable part of the training. When she was 11, she started to participate in the local tournaments. Initially, many failures came to her way. Some times Maria felt shattered and frustrated too, but her coach and family gave her full support and encouragement. Maria slowly became a finished product of her coach’s training and father’s ambition. She succeeded in many local and national level tournaments.
Then the Olympics were round the corner. Maria made it a point that she would participate in the Olympics. She began preparing very hard for the selection process. And finally her hard work was rewarded -and she got selected in the US Women Gymnastics Team for Olympics. After getting selected, Maria made herself completely devoted to the sport and she worked really hard all through days and nights.
Then came the time when she was on the floor of the Olympic stadium. She first looked at her coach and her family and then waved hands to the audience. Maria started her floor exercise. She performed brilliantly. And she skipped a heart beat when she was announced as the Gold Medal winner. On the medal podium her eyes were welled up and were reflecting her extreme happiness. Years of hard work and determination had paid off. The years, where she sacrificed the joys of her childhood. She achieved the best for herself, for her coach, for her family and for her country. Whole stadium was giving her a standing ovation.
That little girl, Maria, inspired me deeply. Though many years have gone past since I saw the movie, but I still remember her. I was totally moved by the way that little girl achieved what she wished for. I always think that if she could achieve all through the hard work and determination, why can’t others achieve what they dream for? Only hard word and determination are need to be invested.
Well, that was a movie, just a fictional story. Many people may think, and they do think, that in a movie showing all this is very easy but doing it all in real life is another story. Even I thought the same when I saw this movie. The real life and the reel life can be poles apart. However, in 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, I saw a real life Maria performing in the Olympics. She was Domenique Moceanu. She perfectly matched Maria of that movie. The same age, same innocent face, same years of hard work behind, same determination, same willingness to succeed and same expectations from her. Dom (as she is popularly known as), was the part of the US women gymnastics team, in the 1996 Olympics. Shanon Miller was leading the team. Dom brilliantly performed all types of exercises (Floor, Beam, Vault, Uneven Bars and Palm Horse etc). I saw all her performances on television. Everybody was enchanted by her excellence. She looked like a tender child. Watching her doing all those tough gymnastic routines, one could easily imagine the amount of hard work she had put in to reach the floor of the Olympics.
There was striking resemblance between Maria and Dominique. Even the climax was also the same! The US women gymnastics team, won the team gold medal for the first time in history in 1996 Olympics. Kerri Strug performed an extraordinary vault routine, even though she had badly injured her left ankle in the previous exercise. It was a case of photo finish with Russian team. If Kerri could not have done that vault exercise at all, or not in that brilliant fashion, then the gold medal would have gone to the Russian team. But Kerri showed heights of courage and decided to do that last vault exercise. On the medal podium, Dom was standing all smiling along with her teammates. All the audience were standing and clapping in their honor when they received the gold medals. They all sang the US National Anthem very proudly. They really had done something, the US could proud on.
Those young ladies (especially Dom and Kerri) always inspire me to bear the pains for doing the desired. Domenique’s name always comes to my mind, whenever I try to shun the hard work for whatsoever reason. I always think that if Domenique could bear so much pain and that too in her early childhood, why can’t I do it. Though its not like that I shun hard work, but it’s human nature which sometimes causes such situations to arise. I am so much inspired by Domenique that I always get on with the things instantly.
Name: Dominique Helena Moceanu
Birthdate: September 30, 1981
Birthplace: Hollywood, CA
- Gold Medal, Goodwill Games, AA, New York 1998
- Gold Medal, Olympic Games, Team, Atlanta 1996
- Gold Medal, Senior Nationals, All-Around, 1995
- Gold Medal, Junior Nationals, All-Around, 1994
- Gold Medal, Junior Nationals, Vault, 1994
- Gold Medal, Junior Nationals, Floor Exercise, 1994
- Bronze Medal, Junior Nationals, Uneven Bars, 1994
- Bronze Medal, Junior Nationals, Balance Beam, 1994
- Gold Medal, Pan American Games, Vault, 1992
- Gold Medal, Pan American Games, Uneven Bars, 1992
- Gold Medal, Pan American Games, Floor Exercise, 1992
- Gold Medal, Pan American Games, All-Around, 1992 (Youngest ever to qualify for Pan American Games)
- Silver Medal, Junior Nationals, Balance Beam, 1992 (Youngest ever to win a Nats. Medal)
(It is an old article that I wrote on my personal website in 2002. I shutdown the website in the same year. As I have been writing about the Olympics in last two posts -I thought it is the right time to release this article again.
Also this article answers, apart from Kerri Strug, what was the reason why I admire the US Women Gymnastics Team of 1996 Atlanta Olympics)