A Celebration of African-American Gymnasts
9 months ago
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Gabby Douglas is the latest black athlete to defy stereotypes by competing in a sport not known for its racial diversity: gymnastics. Here is a look back at other successful black gymnasts through the years.
In 1978 Hilliard became the first African-American on the U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics National team, serving as co-captain twice during her tenure. She went on to coach 1996 Olympian Aliane Baquerot and to be awarded the 2011 Rings of Gold Award from the U.S. Olympic Committee for her work to make the sport of gymnastics accessible to as many children as possible through the Wendy Hilliard Foundation.
After becoming the U.S. champion in the floor exercise in 1977, 1979 and 1980 and the vault in 1979, 1980 and 1981, Galimore made the U.S. Olympics team in 1980. Unfortunately he would never get the chance to compete. The United States was among the countries that participated in a boycott of that year’s games, held in Moscow.
Due to the 1980 boycott that sidelined Galimore, Lakes became the first black gymnast to compete in an Olympic Games, in 1988 in Seoul where he would become the highest placing U.S. gymnast, coming in 19th.
Born in Uganda, Okino was raised in the U.S. and would help the U.S. women’s gymnastics team win its first-ever Olympic medal, a bronze at the 1992 games. Okino pioneered two moves, a triple pirouette on the balance beam and a unique dismount from the uneven bars, both of which are now officially named in the gymnastics Code of Points guide, in her honor.