Three-time Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes, who won a team gold medal in 1996, is in London as a reporter for Fox Sports. That means she should try to be objective when covering the news.
But she just can't help herself.
"I'm sitting on the edge of my seat. If someone does something spectacular, I applaud, stand up and cheer," said Dawes, 35, who retired from the sport eight years ago. "I know it's something I shouldn't be doing in the media section. I'm working hard not to wear my emotions on my sleeve."
But who can blame four-time Olympic medalist Dawes after she got a chance to watch the U.S. women's gymnastics team win a gold medal and then Gabby Douglas become the first African-American to win gold in the individual all-around competition?
Dawes was made available to Playbook for a short interview as part of Citi's launch of the "Every Step of the Way" Olympic program.
"It's an exciting moment for me. A lot of people don't know the USOC is not government funded and they are always looking for support from sponsors," Dawes said. "Citi stepped up and donated $500,000 to support athletes and their Olympic pursuits. My team is Team Dominique and I'm working with the USOC on the development of a Recovery Center with hot and cold plunge pools. We need hot to relax the muscles and cold is just an ice bath. It's torture. The American girls tweeted out photos of them in the plunge pools!"
— McKayla Maroney (@McKaylaMaroney) August 3, 2012
What was your reaction to the women's gymnastics team's efforts?
"I was so thrilled for these girls to win the gold medal with their spectacular performances. I'm happy to know that each and every one of them put their egos aside and put the team first. That's how they became victors. It was a great feeling to see the team win, 16 years after my team did so in Atlanta."
What do you think of Gabby Douglas? And I hear you don't like the "Flying Squirrel" nickname given to her by national team coordinator Martha Karolyi, right?
"I'm so proud of that kid. And she has a great mom. I've been supporting her since I met her last year. And then she had those spectacular performances. She really wowed the crowd and she always has been on top of her game. She peaked at the right time. I couldn't be more pleased to have someone like Gabby on top of that podium. She is the first and only African-American to win the all around. And, on the nickname, I don't like the one everyone is saying and neither does her family. The consensus is they are going with 'Golden Gabby.' The host family came up with that name. I had tweeted out to my followers about the fact we're looking for a new nickname. We got some good ones. 'Gabulous.' 'Fab Gab.' I talked to her mom, Natalie, and they are going with 'Golden Gabby.' That will be her new nickname."
You're also there working with the First Lady Michelle Obama?
"I was here in London with the First Lady's Olympic delegation and I've worked with some events. We had nearly 1,000 ambassadors of fitness all focused on physical activity. It was truly spectacular. I've worked with the First Lady for the past two years on the President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. I'm cochair with Saints quarterback Drew Brees. We are passionate about health and fitness and empowering families and educating young kids."
What's tougher, asking questions as a media member, or getting questions asked of you?
"I think it's actually harder to watch the meet from the media section. You have no control there. Not that it was easy as a competitor. But it's all on you out there to make it or break it. It's very difficult to sit back and have no control as these girls are competing. As a media member, my goal is to inform the American fans of persons of character. It's a joy for me, either writing a good story or telling a story on video. I'm trying to have a positive impact. That's why I do the work I do. So I let them know about Gabby Douglas or the other girls [on the team]. Oh, they would like to be known as the 'Fierce Five.' That's the nickname they want to go with, not 'Fab Five.' We want to inspire thousands of girls and boys beyond these Olympic Games."
What's your favorite thing about London?
"Right now it's the Olympics. That's all I've seen or done. I've been working non-stop. I do plan to get out of here once the Olympics ends. I plan to go to Italy for two weeks. Finally taking a vacation. It's always been a dream of mine to go there. I hope to be blessed to be able to enjoy that trip."