At 14 years old, Dominique Moceanu was the youngest member of the 1996 U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team, the first and only American women’s team to take gold at the Olympics. Among countless accolades and instant worldwide fame, Dominique became the youngest athlete to appear on a Wheaties box, and the youngest American gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal. But all that glitter and glory came with a price… a life filled with physical and mental abuse delivered by her domineering father and relentless coach Bela Karolyi.
Now 16 years later, at age 30, Dominique chronicles the painful memories of her childhood and the shocking family secret that rocked her adult life in a new memoir called “Off Balance”.
The New York Times best seller is filled with Dominique’s haunting stories of competition, years of hiding injuries and pain out of fear of retribution from her coaches, and how she hit rock bottom after a public battle with her parents. But medals, murder plots, drugs, and daring escapes aside (all of which figure into Moceanu’s incredible “Off Balance” journey), the most jaw dropping aspect of her life is the family secret that Dominique discovers as an adult after receiving a letter from Jen Bricker, also a passionate gymnast, who grew up watching and worshiping Dominique. The bombshell comes when Jen reveals, with paperwork to back up her claim, that she has recently come to learn she is the second child of Dominique’s parents, but was put up for adoption at birth because she had no legs.
It’s hard to imagine which woman’s shock and surprise was more difficult to process: Dominique’s at learning she has a second younger sister who was given away by her parents and kept a secret from her or Jen’s at finding out that her childhood idol was actually her older sister. This story is INSANE on so many levels… and it’s true!
“Off Balance” is definitely on our summer reading list, but here’s a preview of the incredible story of the reunion of these two long lost sisters, who grew up unbeknownst to one another and hundreds of miles apart, yet shared an incredible bond… their love of gymnastics.