Features
Interview: Dominique Moceanu Finds "Balance"
By Susie Kopecky
Jul 4, 2012 - 12:47:03 PM

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Dominique Moceanu's new book, Off Balance.
BEVERLY HILLS—Dominique Moceanu already has an impressive list of accomplishments, by anyone's standards. And recently, the Olympian and mother has also completed an autobiography, Off Balance.

Off Balance, published in 2012, is the culmination of a project which started years ago. The fascinating and at-times raw (but entirely engrossing) story of her rise to super-stardom, her trials and tribulations (including the discovery of a sister), and everything in between, was published by Touchstone.

Moceanu graciously spoke with Canyon News about her experiences writing her fascinating new memoir (which has entirely captured the public's attention) and much more.

Moceanu explained how she was inspired to write the book "by many things: my fans, long ago, said 'you should write a book!', my husband inspired me and gave me courage." Time, however, was one very important element of the process:  "
I think I needed time to reflect and the confidence to put everything out there," she reflected. "I wanted to share and open myself so people really got a look into my life unlike [any] they'd never seen before."


And not only was she working hard on the highly-anticipated memoir: she was also working to complete five books this year alone, including Go for Gold Gymnasts, which sh describes as a "true, authentic account of our sports at the elite children's level."


Moceanu described the process of writing her autobiography as "very empowering and also very difficult," as she began to reveal herself through it "in a way I never revealed myself before."

Q: What kind of intensive and demanding (nay, grueling, no doubt!) kind of work and practice was required to bring you the huge success you have achieved?

A: "[Training] 40 hours a week... was a full-time job for me... I started it very very young. I realized discipline and hard work were very demanding. I realized at nine-years-old I wanted to go to the Olympics; it was my dream. I believed having a good work ethic would result in great success... and saw an incredible work ethic in my parents, too.


Discpline and determination helped me to achieve that success. Hard work was a model for life and taught me so many good things I carry with me today [such as the importance of] be[ing] punctual, [and] work[ing] hard in whatever I do.


Q: How does your past in gymnastics continue to influence you and affect you on a daily basis?

A: I believe that all of those experiences have made me a stronger woman today. I never thought I would be so open about my fears and turbulent home life... I never thought I would sit here and talk so openly about things that terrified my in my childhood... that determination gave me courage.
 

Q: What kind of advice would you give to aspiring future gymnasts?

A: To the parents I would say, really understand the philosophy of the coaches that are impacting your children. Have an open line of communication with coaches. Don't hand over all authority and unchecked power to them... things happen behind closed doors in gyms, and the kids can be scared and intimidated and we need to make sure we are defining abuse to the children... they need to come to their parents and have a place of peace.

This is something very much kept quiet and it happens a lot, and it happens a lot where these elite coaches abuse their power. So encourage the parents to ask their children what is going on [and] let them know to come to you and be comfortable.


Make sure the child's emotional and physical well-being is put above all else.


Years later, [parents are] sometimes lucky to know what happened years later.
These things can be talked about and prevented if we define abuse. It's not okay to get treated that way, and coaches should not be able to have that kind of power and belittle you

The color of the medal around their [young athletes'] necks does not define their self-worth.



Q: How is your relationship with your family and with your former trainers? Is there anything you would change about their treatment of you as a child athlete?

A: I don't wish my experiences upon anyone. I no longer have a relationship with my former coaches, the Karolyis, and have not for a very long time. But I have remained friendly with several of my other coaches that I've had throughout my career, as well as several of my former teammates.

My father passed away, but we reconciled before that... I needed to forgive him because I needed to move forward and let him go to heaven... I just saw how horrible cancer was and what it could do to a person. In the end, he apologized for what he had done... I didn't want my father to leave this earth not knowing I forgave him.

My mother and I have a very good relationship...
But my book has certainly led to the opening of some old wounds and has created a healing process. I think in time, I think she is going to be okay and going to be supportive. She has always supported me in my career.



Q: What is the overall message you would like to convey to your readers, if you could convey just one overarching message?

A: Definitely there are many themes. One takeaway is that I feel my life story is one of finding balance. I believe all people at one point can be off balance, but are all striving to be on balance. We can all find balance, and while it's not always easy, we can all find and achieve the balance we are looking for.



Q: What are your passions now?

A: My passions today are first and foremost my children and being a mommy. I love it and take great joy in being a parent! I am so thankful to be their mommy. I love being a parent and I look forward to the journey. And obviously recently I've taken a joy in writing and creating books: it's been a dream of mine for so long.


I've received overwhelming responses of positivity and I look forward to the next chapter! [She noted that she might do some work on producing a movie version of her story, in the future.]

I'm going to go for it [future goals] in full force [and I] would love to do some television work.



Q: What did you enjoy most and least about writing?

A: Finding the balance [between family and work]... dedicating [time and care] to both projects and writitng, and finding my space to be creative... was a challenge, but a healthy challenge.

My memoir allowed me to have a very introspective perspctive [as I] had to turn a lens on myself and that was heavy. [For the children's book] it was more creative, and that was really unique for me to create these characters' lives and the lessons I wanted to create... [In contrast], part of the difficulty of my memoir was... revisiting those emotions and turning the hard lens on myself [particularly with her father].

it was an empowering process and I was able to heal with my memoirs. I was able to be more lighthearted in the children's series in the gymnastics world. but also very authentic. With the memoir, it was very heavy and emotional but very rewarding.

I think my overall message of finding balance... I believe we can all find the balance we are looking for. Even though it can be difficult, we can all strive for it and achieve it if we want it.



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