Heart of a Champion: the Dominique Dawes Story
Kim Washburn

The Summer Olympics are just around the corner! Sports enthusiasts everywhere are marking their calendars. One of my favorite events to watch in the Summer Olympics is the gymnastics competition (my other favorites are track-and-field and swimming, just for the record). The gymnasts, though, really seem to defy gravity and the normal bounds of the human body. Dominique Dawes is a gymnast I remember well; she is my age, and she was a remarkable athlete on so many levels.

This short biography chronicles Dawes’ gymnastics career, reviewing her Olympic history in particular, and tells what Dawes has been up to since her last Olympic competition. She is one of the very few gymnasts to have medaled in three different Olympics, the first African American ever to medal in gymnastics, and was a part of the Magnificent Seven team which won the gold in the ’96 Olympics (here on U.S. soil, even!).

This biography gives a decent nod to Dawes’ professed faith, but it is fairly mild. I doubt it would offend anyone who wasn’t a Christian, might encourage those who are Christian athletes, and will interest anyone interested in gymnastics. I wish there had a been a touch more coverage of Dawes’ faith, but this is a solid biography nonetheless. This is a terrific option for middle grades students–and even high school students; it is an easy read, has some really great photos sprinkled throughout, and brings the reader right up to the current day. The bibliography has a wealth of further information for Dawes’ fans to pursue.

Book read as an ARC via netgalley; cover image from goodreads